Decant Day, 31 August 2016: Packing up the Art Store

Jo Clarke, Marketing and Communications Officer

As the final week before the City Museum and Art Gallery closes its doors to the public (Saturday 3 September) progresses, so too do our packing efforts behind the scenes!

One of the biggest tasks we’ve undertaken recently is the packing up of our main art store and our ‘In The Frame: Plymouth’s Portraits Revealed’ exhibition.

In order to complete this task we worked with Momart – one of the world’s premier fine art transport, storage and installation companies. Momart work with collectors, galleries, artists and museums worldwide. This includes prestigious venues such as Tate, the V&A and the British Museum, so we knew we were going to be in very good hands.

There were only two weeks available to complete this particular mission! Over 140 temporary travel frames, 3 pallet horses and 12 transit crates were delivered to the Museum and Art Gallery before the work started – all of which should give you an indication of the scale of the task.

Momart were with us from 25 July to 5 August. As you can imagine, there was a lot of work to get through in a short space of time – but we were thrilled with what had been achieved by the end of the fortnight.

Our art store before the packing began
Our art store before the packing began

The first thing Momart tackled were our large framed oil paintings. Many of these were in our main art store while others were hanging in our ‘In the Frame’ exhibition.

The 'In the Frame: Plymouth's Portraits Revealed' exhibition contained a number of oil paintings from our art collection
Our ‘In the Frame: Plymouth’s Portraits Revealed’ exhibition contained a number of oil paintings from our art collection

The exhibition had been on display since late 2014 and featured nearly 50 works of art from our fine art collection some of which date from as far back as the early 1500s. It also included one of our most recent and most significant acquisitions – an early self portrait of famous Plympton-born artist Sir Joshua Reynolds.

All in all Momart packed and moved 265 paintings!

Momart1 Collage

The team from Momart hard at work
The team from Momart hard at work

In addition to this, they also moved our entire sculpture collection to our secure offsite store – another thing ticked off our list.

Momart packed and moved our stored sculpture collection in addition to our paintings
Momart packed and moved our stored sculpture collection in addition to our paintings

One of the other key achievements from this element of the decant is the fact that we now have up-to-date documentation and condition reports for the fine art collection. In the future this will be really useful in helping us to prioritise conservation work and seek the appropriate funding to help protect the artistic treasures in our collection that need it the most.

Watch this short time lapse video to get a glimpse behind the scenes at the decant work Momart undertook in our art store. We’ll be back with another update on the Museum’s decant in a couple of weeks.

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3 thoughts on “Decant Day, 31 August 2016: Packing up the Art Store”

  1. Have the John Foulston watercolours of his Plymouth and Devonport buildings been packed away yet? Does the Museum hold photographs of them?

    1. Thanks for your enquiry. I believe that the watercolours have already been packed away. However, I do know that some (if not all) have been digitised. Unfortunately, the images are not yet online, but if you are interested in obtaining copies you can do so through contacting our image service: images@plymouth.gov.uk

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