From Store to Floor - Our Hidden Collections

September 2016 will witness the relocation of The Hunterian collections to Kelvin Hall, a new step in the evolution of the University Museum. Preparations are well underway to transfer the extensive collections, including the vast number of items currently held in the museum stores. Collections Decant Project Co-ordinator Jayne Stewart, spoke to Friends Assistant Eleanor Capaldi about what this has involved.

“Our focus at the moment has been the geological, scientific and medical collections, and their transfer from storage in Balmore to Loanbank. This is where they will stay until being moved over to Kelvin Hall in summer 2016.”

While meticulously unearthing each individual object, the team have discovered some items which caught the eye.

“There are some pretty spectacular items in the stores. In particular we found several cross-sections of trees in bright reds and blues.”

These fossil woods come from Arizona and are the result of the structure mineralising and turning partly into stone. This process of ‘petrification’ results in patterns of bright colours strewn through the remaining wooden structure.

As progress continues and eight storage spaces reveal their secrets, the focus moved to zoology.

“This was our summer project and the items span skeletons, corals and shells, although for entomology we will wait for additional expertise to come on board.”

The Kelvin Hall decant is also at the front of new technology to ensure all items are tracked and accounted for. This involves a new barcode and app system.

“It has been used at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. They have been the first to take on board this technique, so while we need to see how it pans out, I’m hopeful that it will ease the process.”

With all these items at the museum’s disposal, visitors can look forward to a collection enhanced by these unearthed items.

“For the moment we have planned a taster display case, which will give a hint of what we have uncovered. The real chance to display more of the collections would come with Kelvin Hall phase 2.”

Martin Munro, Kelvin Hall Project Coordinator confirms that everything is currently on track.

“We’re running to schedule for the opening in September 2016. At present the renovation works are ongoing, and things are starting to take shape. Visitors to Kelvin Hall will be in for a real treat.”

First published: 30 November 2015

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