Decant Day, 8 February 2017: Bows, arrows, axes and spears

By Steve Conway, Decant Officer

As you know we have finished the decant of the Museum and Art Gallery building, which is now in the process of being turned into a construction site. The final few weeks towards the end of last year were extremely busy. Now we have all the objects safely moved to our offsite store, I thought I’d take a few minutes to highlight one of the final tasks we dealt with and never got time to cover on the blog before Christmas.

This particular task involved emptying the weapons from the ethnography, or world cultures store in the basement of the Museum. Not the sort of thing you do every day!

The weapons come from all over the world and include bows, arrows axes, clubs and spears. Some of the spears are quite sharp and measure up to 3 metres in length. This makes them quite awkward and unwieldy to move.

As a result, we were faced with the slightly unusual challenge of needing to devise a safe transport solution that wouldn’t just protect the objects, but the team of people who were handling them too.

Our solution was to re-use our large transit-frames which are usually meant for transporting large oil paintings. As you can see from the image below, we added strong polypropylene mesh to the frames and then tied the weapons to it with soft cotton tape.

A photograph of a transit frame with weapons attached to it for transportation
A transit-frame re-deployed for transporting the weapons

This was a fairly time consuming task as we only had three transit-frames available to use. This meant we had to unpack each frame as soon as it arrived at the offsite store and move the weapons onto extra mesh that we’d installed there. This quickly freed up the transit-frame so we could use it to transport another group of weapons.

Now the work is done and they’re all on display at the store the effect is really impressive – as you can see from these images below!

A photograph of a series of world cultures weapons on temporary racking
An image of the weapons in their new (temporary) home at the offsite store
A photograph of weapons and bark cloths from Plymouth Museum's world cultures collection in temporary storage
A different view of some of the weapons along with some rolled bark cloths from our world cultures collection
A photograph of long ethno weapons in temporary storage
More weapons in storage – you can see how the length and shape of some of these might make them difficult to pack and move
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