Moving House: Decant of the Museum of Childhood Stores



November 11, 2019

Before embarking on our transformation of the V&A Museum of Childhood we need to complete a number of what we call ‘enabling’ projects. These are activities which need to be done before we can begin preparing the building for new gallery displays. For example, if you were very organised when you were moving house, you might write a list of contents on each box. Museums do something very similar when we move our collections!

Objects are individually wrapped and transported in crates.
Object handling training for the team at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The first of these ‘enabling projects’  involves auditing, packing and transporting of the collections in storage here in Bethnal Green to the V&A in South Kensington. Our collections will be stored temporarily at South Kensington until they join the rest of the V&A collections in Stratford in a few years’ time.

Auditing is a standard museum activity, but it’s quite rare to audit an entire collection of 35,000 objects in the space of one year.  We have a brilliant team of curators, conservators and museum technicians working hard on the decant project alongside a team of volunteers.

Conservation training on condition and handling of objects.

The audit team are working systematically through the collections box by box, shelf by shelf and store by store, checking that each part of every object is in the correct location. At the same time, we assess the condition of each object, making sure it’s safe for the object to be moved. If an object needs a bit of help to move safely, Conservation and Technical Services work together to make a packing plan support that object so it arrives safely in its new home. We’re also separating out objects which will be displayed in the future galleries.

Technician packing a crate.

The team say that the best part of the job is the rediscovery of objects in the stores! We’ve come across many interesting and beautiful objects during our audit of the Textiles store, many of which you’ll be seeing in the future museum.  

Miniature Feather Furniture, 1900-1922? Museum no. MISC.35-38 1922. Image copyright V&A Museum.Table with setting; Alabaster. Museum no W.71-1918. Image copyright V&A Museum. Owl, c.1966. Museum No MISC.133-1987. Image copyright V&A Museum.
Packed crates ready to be moved.
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