Protecting the past
The Museum takes its responsibility preserving the Corp’s heritage, very seriously. Our team of professionals takes care of a huge and varied collection that continues to grow. Collections management takes a lot of effort and patience, but is vital for the longevity of the artefacts. Each artefact is recorded in a database, providing details of its location, appearance, history and with a digital image. It will be packed away with special materials intended to keep it in a ph neutral environment and protect from dust and light. We must also be careful with the rooms they are stored in. Light, temperature and humidity need to be managed and shelving cannot contain harmful materials. Hanging over all of this is cost. How do you achieve this with a limited budget?
Since relocating to Lyneham, the Museum has been preparing its storage rooms. There are lots of rooms available for this purpose, but only after converting what were once the bedrooms of RAF officers. Wardrobes have been converted, walls washed and painted, mirrors and medicine cabinets removed, blinds and racking installed. The most recent of these is our new art store.
During its RAF days, this windowless room was a drying space or linen store. The clues were a ventilation shaft in the ceiling and strong pine shelving, covered in markings telling RAF personnel where to place their items. Pine is an acceptable wood for conservation purposes, so these were converted to an arrangement that suited our needs. This took a lot of muscle, but we got there. An interesting find in one of the crevices were the fond letters written by a foreign lady to one of the officers. Then we covered the hole in the ceiling and washed and painted the walls.
Once the walls were prepared we could apply the metal grills to hang the paintings from. Although it had taken a lot of effort converting the shelves, they were far from complete. Decades of grime had to be washed away, sections and divisions created. To protect the artworks, sculptures and other items, the surface were covered in a specialist foam material called Plastazote. After a great team effort we are pleased to announce that the room is finished and items are moving in. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we got there. The interesting part has been the varied skills of the team, all of this was achieved ‘in-house’. Has the REME spirit made its way into the new art store?