A satisfying bit of recycling

8 02 2014


Soon after the Whitworth’s collections were designated as having national significance in the 1990s, the Gallery secured two tranches of funding from the Designation Challenge Fund to rehouse large parts of the collections across the three disciplines of fine art, textiles and wallpapers, in new, specially designed mobile storage units.  

Each of the separate units were designed to meet the needs of the collections housed within them, whether they were boxed watercolours, hanging textiles, or wallpaper rolls; they were a combination of shelving units, drawers, and suspension rods, and at the time the result of new thinking around the dual needs of collection care and accessibility.  The mobiles were located on the first floor of the Gallery within the study rooms and until recently served us well.


During our discussions with storage companies last year, it became clear that in terms of both cost and efficiency of design, it would not make sense to try and incorporate the existing units into our new storage zone, and so with heavy hearts we set about dismantling and storing them (see first photo) with the hope that new homes could be found for the units, all of which remained in excellent condition.

With uncanny timing, conversations were underway just down the road at the Manchester Museum as to what improvements could be made to existing storage with just a very small amount of money.  With some staff working across both institutions it didn’t take much to add two and two together, and happily a large percentage of the mobile units are currently being installed at the Museum – this includes library shelving in a small archive room, mobiles in a transit room used primarily for exhibition preparation and in the Herbarium, and plans for static units in other collection stores – the Museum has only had to foot the installation costs, while the Gallery is delighted to see this satisfying bit of recycling.


There are still some more sections of the mobile units in need of a good home – we would like these to go to a museum, gallery or archive, so if you are interested please contact me and we could look at what is achievable (nicola.walker@manchester.ac.uk).




3 responses

8 02 2014

Reblogged this on msamba.

8 02 2014

good tip.

9 02 2014

Great bit of communication and common sense going on there.

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