The Hurdles of Moving a Heritage Institution

Anyone can who working in a heritage organization or archive can tell you that storage space is often at a premium.  No matter how much space you have you often need more. Sometimes this space crunch, space renovations, or other factors can cause a heritage organization to decide to relocate.  Moving a heritage institution isn’t a task to be done on a whim, tremendous planning, manpower, and organization are needed when relocating archives and museums.

Think about the shipment of temporary exhibits: insurance and loan documents need to be completed by both parties, the exhibit is normally store in specially made packaging, the condition of everything needs to be documented when it arrives and when it leaves, and space needs to be made available to unpack and install the exhibit.  Even the relocation of small temporary exhibits take lots of planning and paperwork.  Multiple that effort tenfold when an entire facility is being relocated.

Some of the primary areas of consideration when moving or renovating a heritage facility include:

  • Packing: material that is not already boxed needs to be packed in a manner which ensures safety during movement.  Fragile material and oversize material such as artwork requires special consideration in developing material specific packaging.  Books and paper material is heavy and people backing material should be conscious of those who will have to lift the boxes.
  • Shipping: Even just moving material small distances requires a lot of planning.  Staff who are helping move the material should be trained in proper handling procedures, insurance should be acquired for the traveling material, and additional security issues may apply to valuable items.  
  • Documentation: Everything should be well documented including: who is doing the moving, box content lists, timelines, insurance, costs, etc.
  • Public: Many heritage organizations exist for the public and hold items in the public trust.  As such,  planning for the least interruption of public services is often important.  Granted, in some cases service interruption and facility closure is impossible to avoid.