Work has started on moving some of the museum’s collection to the Old School in Grey School Passage. Purchased in March, the building will provide both temporary and long-term space for storage of collections.
As well as being needed during the redevelopment phase, the Old School offers a nearby offsite facility for the longer term, and additional space for researchers to access deep storage.
The Fine Art and Textiles collections will move over from the Colliton Street cottages. Natural History will remain, the freed up space allowing for research and conservation work ready for display in the new galleries. Much of this collection will then be on display for the first time in many years. Social History has already moved to the Old School, leaving the stable block clear to be developed as soon as permission is received from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Old School provides much improved facilities for volunteers and staff to work on the collections. A prime example is the framing equipment, generously loaned to the Museum by the Moule and du Boulay Trust for Art, which has not been fully utilised because of lack of space in Colliton Street. Now in its new home at the Old School – thanks to some heavy duty lifting equipment and strong muscles – it is already being prepared for use by a volunteer with picture re-framing experience.
The role of volunteers has been critical in achieving this move. Led and project managed by DNHAS Trustee John Hilton, volunteer curators of collections have managed the move of their collections alongside the Heads of Collections and Maintenance Team. John said “It is wonderful to bring these items out of storage so they can be on public view, in some cases for the first time”.
There are ambitious plans to open the new facility for public tours once the move has been completed, so people can view collections previously not on display in advance of the Tomorrow’s Museum for Dorset project.