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The pleasure of possessions

When objects “from the field” come to the museum, they are dusty, and often really dirty. The first job is to carefully vacuum dust and lint. Porcelain, enamel goods and the like is properly washed. The dirt trap in the depot is set up for this purpose. But what does a cleaning have to stop at? What is a meaningful sign of time and use? And what is simply dirt? Experienced museum employees obtain technical advice in individual cases.

Textiles, wood and leather, rope, bones, tendons, absolutely anything that consists of organic material is treated against pests in the quarantine room. Loose particles are secured. In short: anything which helps to further preserve the inventory accepted by the museum in an undiminished manner is done. The depot administrator contributes his experience with regard to everyday decisions, what is to be done on the objects and who has to be assigned for this purpose.

Restoration is always the job of conservators. Museum directors or collection directors always make the decision concerning the methods and goals of restoration under the consideration of technical advice.

Museum and banana crate entered into an almost indissoluble marriage a long time ago. Crates filled with stuff and silent treasures are stacked in attic and basement depots. A yellowing slip with information about the container’s contents and its origin is put on the items.

It also works differently. The depot at the Massing Open-Air Museum is equipped with industrial high racks which accommodate standard EUR-pallets (80 x 120 cm). Cabinets and chests of drawers are available for small objects. Acid-free textile wrapping tissue and acid-free museum cardboard, untreated duvetyn and nettle fabric, positioners for inventory numbers and many other aids have proven to be successful for long-term, everyday-suitable warehousing.

In 1989, a museum depot with high rack warehouse for EUR-pallets was put into operation for the first time in Bavaria at the Finsterau Open-Air Museum. Planning and operation of the museum depot in Massing is based on the experiences of this museum.

In 2007, the Massing Open-Air Museum received the Special Prize of the Bavarian Museum Award for the concept and creation of the collection’s depot and its exemplary operation.


TEXT: Martin Ortmeier | PHOTOS: Josef Lang, Gerhard Nixdorf

Glimpse in the central depot of the Massing Open-Air Museum

Storage of harnesses hanging by pairs in special storage pallets

Pottery collection in steel cabinets