Archival Storage & Museum Collections Storage

The part of a museum’s collection that is visible to the public at any given point is minimal compared to the part that is stored away—which means that space conservation leads to collections conservation.

Preserving the integrity of artifacts and collections becomes increasingly important as time goes by. The portion of a museum’s collection that is on public display at any given time is usually relatively small compared to the part that is stored away—which means that archivists must be concerned not only with conserving their collections, but also in conserving space to accommodate those collections.

DSSI has worked with Spacesaver, the leader in museum collections storage and preservation, for years—and along the way, we’ve encountered all types of storage challenges and needs. In our work with Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), an archival research foundation and museum in Philadelphia, the primary goal was to organize the existing collection and make it more accessible to researchers and patrons, while also allowing the Foundation to plan for additional accessions.

CASE STUDY: STATE LIBRARY

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See how Spacesaver archival storage solutions protect rare documents at the State Library of Pennsylvania. Your information will not be sold or shared.

Museum Storage Solutions

ARCHIVAL STORAGE   |   FINE ART STORAGE   |   MUSEUM CABINETS

Archival Storage

For the Chemical Heritage Foundation, archives aren’t simply part of history—they serve as a collective memory, providing evidence of significant leaders, organizations, and inventions of the past. “We are here to preserve legacies, and scientists think of their legacy as their published papers,” says Ronald Brashear, Director of CHF’s Othmer Library. “It’s my job to tell them that scholars are interested in much more than that. They want to know about the wrong turns you took, the false starts.” These materials must be quickly and easily accessible for prompt retrieval. “Researchers would stop using us if it took hours to get the materials they need,” Brashear added.

In order to achieve that goal, CHF decided to bring their collection back on-site by way of a historical building with an extremely narrow width of 16’. A 36’ high XTend Mobile Archival Storage System was used to house 8,000 archival boxes as well as accommodate another 20 years of collections acquisition.

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Similar to CHF, the nearby Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA had been experiencing a crunch with their archives. With 8,000 lineal feet of material to store—4,000 feet of that being archival records, consisting of 20,000 printed volumes and pamphlets in the archive’s library—they were running out of space and weren’t able to keep up with researcher requests. Using a mechanical-assist high-density mobile system helped them compact their space and concentrate on helping patrons with their work as well as continue their collection of items without having to worry about constraints.


The State Library of Philadelphia’s archival storage mission was to protect their historically and nationally significant collection of rare books for future generations. Planning led to a solution centered on a specially-designed high-density mobile storage system, customized and tested by national and international experts in the field of paper-based conservation, to validate the historic preservation capabilities of the systems. These systems compacted space in the State Library’s Rare Books Vault, the Historic Newspaper Repository (which houses approximately six miles of extremely frail newspapers), and the Post-1861 Rare Collection.

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Fine Art Storage

Our art rack storage systems give you a versatile and secure way to secure your art collections—and each of these racks can store twice as much compared to traditional storage. The double-faced, woven steel mesh design allows galleries and museums to hang artwork on both sides of the rack without interference—and the panels can be installed as ceiling-mounted systems or floor-mounted systems used in conjunction with high-density mobile carriages.

At the Delaware Art Museum, they encountered a challenging scenario—a newly renovated building that still wasn’t going to be large enough for their needs, especially in the wake of acquiring a very rare classic book collection . They quickly realized they needed to be smarter about collections storage. To make it possible for them to take the book collection and have additional space, a double-sided art rack was used in conjunction with a compact mobile storage system to condense the art collection.

Spacesaver and their partners have created art collection storage solutions for museums across the country, including:

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Visible art storage at the Daytona Museum of Arts and Science:

Storage became part of the display at Daytona MOAS when a large donation was made to incorporate “visible storage”—a recent trend in museums to maximize public access to museum and art collections that would otherwise be hidden from public view. With black shelving, art racks, and the use of Plexiglas and several spotlights, the collection looks just as incredible in storage as it would on display.

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Nesting art racks at the Canadian War Museum:

500,000 pieces in various collections make up the artifacts of the Canadian War Museum. For the 1,300 artworks in the Museum’s Paintings Vault, 90 moveable art racks nest together on double rails for maximum storage and visibility.

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Museum Cabinets

Spacesaver’s museum storage cabinets include locking glass doors, drawer systems, and additional custom features. The cabinets can easily be designed to meet the specific needs of your facility, and are approved and proven for museum and archival institution use. At the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, cabinets were custom designed to enhance their collections’ security. Uniquely formulated powder coat paint was used on drawer glides to minimize particulate sloughing and vibration of stored items, and for open shelf applications, special gasketing was added to the entire perimeter of each aisle to ensure a constant seal when carriages are closed, protecting against damaging elements. The cabinets were also designed to work seamlessly with a high-density mobile storage system, which helped Peabody save enough space to combine several departments into one facility.

High-Density Mobile Storage

Like the Peabody Museum, many museums are dealing with an increase in collection acquisitions and a decrease in storage space. That’s why many of our museum storage solutions such as art racks, shelving, and cabinets can be utilized with a high-density mobile storage system in order to maximize space and increase efficiency and accessibility. The Delaware Art Museum increased their capacity with the use of a high-density mobile system—learn more here.

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Learn more about the variety of museum storage solutions available by downloading our Museum Storage Lookbook