Historical Museum Asks Commissioners To Consider Space For Collections Storage

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Sweetwater County Historical MuseumSweetwater County Historical Museum Executive Director Brie Blasi spoke to the County Commissioners earlier this week asking them to consider providing a county-owned facility for centralized collections storage.

Blasi said while she did not know which buildings would be available in the coming months, she wanted to better communicate with the Commissioners about the museum’s needs.

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She told the Commissioners that collections storage is actively used as the curator’s work space.

The museum currently stores collections in three facilities, only two of which are county owned. Total storage space includes 5000 square feet, 3000 square feet of which is paid storage space. Blasi said the limited space has prevented the museum from accepting important donations.

Blasi said the 3000 square feet paid space has become increasingly difficult for proper storage. Roof leaks and other storage issues at the paid facility have resulted in damage to dozens of artifacts. Just two of those artifacts cost over $5000 to restore, and hundreds of additional artifacts remain at risk.

In addition, Blasi told the commissioners that about $15,000 is spent annually on storage-rental fees for the museum. With 17 years of paying for storage, about $250,000 has been spent on those fees.

Blasi requested at least 10,000 square feet of room which meet the following standards of museum collections storage:

Standards for Museum Collections Storage (What the Museum Needs):

  • Environmental controls (temperature and relative humidity—an HVAC system
  • Secure with accessibility limited to appropriate persons (museum staff, maintenance)
  • Limited and controllable light exposure
  • Appropriate and sufficient shelving/storage
  • No or limited exposure to water sources or other potential environmental damage
  • Safe means for transporting collections (proper handling and limited travel distance)
  • Museum staff do most if not all cleaning according to collections standards (limiting or eliminating the burden on the custodial department)

Standards for Museum Use (What the Museum Wants to Do)

  • Increase storage area to properly care for all collections according to museum standards in a single, climate-controlled, secure, county-owned facility
  • Put money used for off-site storage fees to better use—such as utilities and supplies for a storage facility
  • Have room to expand collections to better represent the people of Sweetwater County
  • Have more room for bigger, better, and changing exhibits in the museum building to help increase heritage tourism
  • Increase public programming and outreach—expand services to the entire county
  • Contribute more to the overall economic vitality and quality of life in Sweetwater County
  • With space opened in the current museum building to use for events, classes, and programs, the museum would eliminate the need to ay rental costs for outdoor and large events and provide resources to begin generating revenue through fundraising events and paid programming to offset costs
  • This would eliminate the only obstacle the museum has in seeking accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums—making the facility eligible for more and larger grants and affording the county the prestige of being among only eight percent of museums nationwide to meet accreditation standards.

While the Commissioners agreed it’s too early to know what will be available, they thanked Blasi for speaking to the board about the museum’s needs so they can evaluate how to use space in the future.