Decant Day, 14 September 2016: Packing with the Public

by Lottie Clark, Art Curator

Those of you who ventured into the Museum and Art Gallery in the last months before we closed would have noticed a hive of activity taking place in our ‘It’s A Wrap!’ exhibition. The reason for this is that we were lucky enough to have a dedicated area set aside in the exhibition for packing items from our collections. This meant the public could come and have a nose and find out more about what the process involves!

Items from our art collection waiting to be packed.
Items from our art collection waiting to be packed.

It also meant we could keep our in-house training going and have a place for our dedicated team of volunteers to work.

One of the major tasks to achieve, while we were still open, was the continued packing of our art stores. While we had MOMART in to pack and move the large works and sculpture – as reported in our last #DecantDay post – it was down to our volunteers to soft-wrap the smaller works. After some training and a well-attended ‘Art Bite’ talk – both of which demonstrated the art of soft-wrapping in more detail – we were good to go!

Our volunteers were given some training before they started packing.
Our volunteers were given some training before they started packing.

Soft-wrapping art simply means it doesn’t get packed into a crate or wooden transit-frame. Despite this, the art is still very well protected – even elaborately gilded frames can be soft-wrapped, if deemed suitable enough.

Here at the Museum and Art Gallery our Conservation Team recommend ‘crossing’ cotton-tape over the front of a canvas. The tension of the tape lifts it above the canvas. This prevents materials from touching the painted surface and damaging the artwork.

The work is then wrapped and sealed in polythene to protect it and create what we call a microclimate. This means only minimal air, moisture and temperature fluctuations can affect the work inside. Using polythene also means we can see the work, so when it’s hanging on racking at our offsite store it’ll be just as easy to access as it was in our Museum store! The object is also padded around the edges with bubble wrap or jiffy foam to ensure it’s protected while it’s in transit.

One of the main tasks for our 'It's A Wrap!' volunteers was to help soft-wrap works of art from our collections.
One of the main tasks for our ‘It’s A Wrap!’ volunteers was to help soft-wrap works of art from our collections.

As well as helping to wrap works of art, our volunteers also continued to assist us with packing ceramics and creating mountains of tissue puffs!

Our volunteers have worked really hard throughout the summer to help us with our packing.
Our volunteers have worked really hard throughout the summer to help us with our packing.

In addition to this, we held 6 public packing sessions where adults and children could come and have a go at packing objects from our collections. These included ceramics, archaeology and medallions from our art collection.

The sessions were an incredible success and many people attended more than one – eager to continue helping us. All in all we transported over 300 works to our offsite store during the ‘It’s A Wrap!’ exhibition. This was only made possible with the help of our volunteers and the public who came in to lend a hand. Thank you!

Some more works packed and ready to go to our offsite store.
Some more works packed and ready to go to our offsite store.

Although we’ve now closed the doors to the Museum building our packing continues with pace. It’s now moved beyond the stores and into the galleries as all the items that were on public display while we are open now get packed up and moved to our offsite store. Keep an eye on this blog for more updates as our packing continues. We’ll be continuing to provide insights into all the goings-on behind the scenes as we work towards emptying the building by the end of the year!

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