Print Friendly

Vertical Storage for Small Robust Archaeological Objects

Purpose

As a teaching museum, the collection at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum requires frequent access and use both for handling and research as well as for display. As the greatest risk to an object occurs during handling, rehousing strategies that reduce or eliminate physical contact while still providing unobstructed visual access were developed for objects in this collection. The museum’s collection of ancient Egyptian faience amulets and small Greco-Roman metal objects is one such collection that benefited from a new housing method. These often extremely small objects have previously been housed in archival boxes with dividers to allow multiple objects to be stored in a single box. Some of these objects were in polyethylene bags which limited access and visibility, while others were simply laid in the box for ease of access. In the latter case, objects were at risk of being easily lost given their small size. The archival boxes also consumed significant storage space and were difficult to quickly search for a specific item. These obstructions had resulted in limited use of this aspect of the museum collection despite the fact that it represented a tremendous diversity of cultural material. By modifying the vertical stacking storage suggested in Appendix I of the National Park Service (NPS) publication The Museum Handbook Part I: Museum Collections, a new storage system was developed with an emphasis on visibility and reduced handling.

Authors

Jennifer L. Torres
150 Gilman Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
410-516-0383
jtorres@jhu.edu
http://archaeologicalmuseum.jhu.edu

Katherine J. Gallagher
150 Gilman Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
410-516-4469
kgallagher@jhu.edu
http://archaeologicalmuseum.jhu.edu

Sanchita Balachandran
150 Gilman Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
410-516-6717
sanchita@jhu.edu
http://archaeologicalmuseum.jhu.edu

Photo Credits: Images courtesy of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum

Publication: 2016

 

Description

For a series of objects that are small in size, robust, and similar in form, this highly visible compact storage system is an effective rehousing method to save storage space, provide high visibility, and ease of accessibility. Objects are placed in polyethylene zip bags lined with Volara® and tied to a piece of corrugated blue board of standard size using twill tape (Figure 1). The backside of each board is lined with Volara® to mitigate damage to the object behind it. Each object and its housing is then “filed” upright with its accession number clearly visible at the top center of the mount into a custom-made tray for storage drawers (Figures 2, 3). This modular, standardized housing method grants each object its own housing, eliminates the need for unnecessary handling, and ensures that groups of objects can be quickly located, searched, and accessed. Even when removed from its filing system for teaching or research purposes, the object is secure in its storage mount and can be easily handled by faculty, students, and researchers.

FIGURE 1. The modular, standardized vertical storage allows small objects to be singularly housed, provides high visibility, and reduces the need for direct handling.

FIGURE 1. The modular, standardized vertical storage allows small objects to be singularly housed, provides high visibility, and reduces the need for direct handling.

FIGURE 2. Objects are “filed” upright and organized alphanumerically by accession number in compartmentalized trays.

FIGURE 2. Objects are “filed” upright and organized alphanumerically by accession number in compartmentalized trays.

FIGURE 3. This compact storage system requires minimal storage space.

FIGURE 3. This compact storage system requires minimal storage space.

 

Materials, Tools & Supplies

  • Corrugated blue board
  • Cotton twill tape (1/4 in.)
  • Volara® polyethylene foam
  • Polyethylene zip bags
  • Hot melt adhesive
  • Metal-edged ruler
  • Utility knife
  • Awl
  • Tweezers
  • Label maker

Construction

1. Select the largest object in series and measure object. To calculate the size of the backer board, add 3 inches to the length and 3 inches to the width of the object. The additional 3 inches provides a border of at least 1 1/2 inches around the object. Check that the size of the board will fit in your storage space when standing up, taking into account the thickness of the tray in which the objects will be filed.

2. Using a ruler and utility knife, cut corrugated blue board to the size determined in Step 1. This will become the standardized backer board.

3. Cut Volara® polyethylene foam to the size determined in Step 1. Place aside for now.

4. Select appropriate size of polyethylene zip bag for object. Objects should be easily removable and not too tight in zip bag.

5. Cut Volara® polyethylene foam to size of bag and place inside zip bag.

6. Place the zip bag in the center of the backer board. Using an awl, punch two holes (at least one inch apart) through the back layer of the polyethylene zip bag above the zipper and though the backer board.

7. Cut twill tape to 7 inches. Using tweezers, weave twill tape through the two holes starting from the backside of the backer board and through the zip bag holes. Tie a tight knot in the back.

8. Using a hot melt adhesive, glue Volara® polyethylene foam from Step 3 to the backside of the backer board, covering the knot and string.

9. Carefully place object in bag and close.

10. Print accession label using the label maker and adhere label at the top center of backer board.

11. Build tray using corrugated blue board to hold objects/backer boards. The tray size will depend on the size of drawer that will serve as the final storage destination and your backer board size.

12. Organize objects in alphanumeric order and “file” upright in tray.

Literature Cited

Appendix I: Curatorial Care of Archaeological Objects. NPS Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed February 19, 2016. https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/
MHI/AppendI.pdf.

Adapted From

Adapted from Appendix I: Curatorial Care of Archaeological Objects of the National Park Service (NPS) publication The Museum Handbook Part I: Museum Collections.

Acknowledgements

The work presented here was possible through the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Program; the Dean’s Office of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University (JHU); and JHU alumna Marjorie Fisher.

Keywords

Vertical stacking; small objects; archaeological objects; accessibility; high visibility

Translate »