May 18, 2009

A safer home for our collections

Posted by: Nicole Robert, Communications

Storage facilities here at the Burke are receiving a major upgrade thanks to a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant. Both the ethnology and geology collections will be moving objects from open shelves to brand-new storage compactors! These compactors will not only prevent potential earthquake damage, they will also protect the artifacts from long-term degradation due to light and dust.

Because the compactors roll on tracks, we don’t have to leave space for pathways between shelving. This efficient use of space will allow the Burke to maximize our facilities. More than half of the geology collections, ranging from dinosaur bones to fossil flowers, will be moved into the new compactors.
Ethnology will be re-locating full-size teepees, large textiles, model houses and the Arthur Steinman Collection. The Steinman Collection encompasses over 400 pieces of Native American art, including masks, argillite sculptures, prints, rattles, drums, boxes, garments and panels. This major project will take place over the next two years, during which time the collections will be closed to visitors.

When telling me about the impact of this FEMA grant, geology collections manager Ron Eng was very excited: “This funding supports our goal of working to make the collections safer, both for people and for the objects.”
Photos: (left) Image of similar compactors at the Bishop Museum; (top right) A close up of quartz amethyst from the Geology Collection; (bottom left) A Steve Smith Kwakwaka'wakw Plate from the Steinman Collection in Ethnology.