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Why is Musea Brugge investing in a new depot facility for our collection?

1 April 2022

By far the largest part of the collection of Musea Brugge is stored in various depots. The artefacts in these depots are accessible for research and for use in digital applications. In addition, they are carefully selected and used in exhibitions, not only at our own sites but also at museums and other institutions, both at home and abroad. In this way, the artefacts are regularly and meaningfully brought to life. For this reason, it is important that our depot facilities are as ideal for their storage task as possible, so that many future generations can continue to enjoy the Musea Brugge collection.

Depotwerking Ontstoffen Musea Brugge Nieuws

What is an optimal depot facility in practice?

Creating the right storage environment has both a direct impact and positive consequences in the long term. Think, for example, how quickly ink fades on paper after a day in the sun. Or how your favourite silver ring turns black, if you fail to polish it regularly.

For heritage items, there are ten crucial damage factors. They are all capable of causing deterioration, and can change the nature and condition of artefacts permanently or – even worse – destroy them completely.
Gewone houtwormkever Wikimedia Entomart CC BY Verhuisblog
The common furniture beetle small but very damaging

10 damage factors

  1. Fire
  2. Water damage
  3. Physical forces (for example, gravity, collision, pressure, abrasion, shocks and vibrations, etc)
  4. Theft
  5. Vandalism
  6. Temperature fluctuations
  7. Too high and too low air humidity
  8. Information loss (for example, documentation relating to an artefact is lost)
  9. Contamination (primarily dust)
  10. Pests and mould

The new Erfgoedfabriek has been designed to offer the best possible storage conditions that will minimise the risks posed by the ten damage factors.

Depotwerking Ontstoffen3 Musea Brugge Verhuisblog
Dusting to prevent mould

How was/is the situation in our depots?

The depots currently used by Musea Brugge are located in historic buildings spread right across the city centre of Bruges. In all, there are some sixty storage rooms, which make the management of the ten damage factors a complex matter. All the locations offer good levels of physical and technical security, but in most cases access is impractical, so that the movement of larger objects is often very difficult. The levels of personnel resources required for monitoring, supervision and investigation are unrealistic. Moreover, not all the artefacts have been registered in the collection databank, which increases the risk of information loss.

The future way forward: the Erfgoedfabriek

In the past, it was often the case that fewer – financial – resources were devoted to the artefacts stored in depots. Fortunately, in recent decades this trend has been reversed and today’s budgets increasingly reflect Musea Brugge’s ambition to give these artefacts the care and attention they deserve. The new Erfgoedfabriek has been designed to offer the best possible storage conditions that will minimise the risks posed by the ten damage factors. At the same time, the centralisation of the collection and all its related information will help Musea Brugge to achieve a number of its other ambitions as well. These include the strengthening of scientific and academic research, the greater prioritisation of conservation, and the improved structural anchoring of preservation and management tasks within the wider operations of Musea Brugge through the more efficient use of available means and resources.

As part of the procedure to move artefacts to the new depot, steps will already be taken to minimise three of the main damage factors:

  • Contamination: all the artefacts will be thoroughly dusted.
  • Information loss: all the artefacts will be photographed and registered in the databank.
  • Physical forces: all the artefacts will be correctly packed.

Would you like to know more about the steps that need to be taken to allow an artefact from the collection to be transported safely to the new depot? You can find further details here.

Depotwerking Ontstoffen2 Musea Brugge Verhuisblog
Depotwerking Dataverzameling Musea Brugge Verhuisblog

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