A recent poll found that the public considers museums to be “the guardians of factual information” – a valuable function in the era of fake news and lack of trust in traditional organizations. Poll respondents felt that the care and preservation of heritage, and the expansion of social knowledge, are two vital primary purposes for museums. Equally important, respondents also indicated their belief that museums are operating under a continuous budgetary threat. To fulfill their mission of knowledge and heritage preservation, museums are called upon to continue collecting and storing culturally relevant materials. At the same time, museums have to preserve and curate these materials with less and less financial support. Museum facilities are faced with a conundrum: how to do more with less. Museum directors never like to turn down any art or artifacts that might be important to future researchers or visitors, with the result that their collections outgrow their available storage. And with budgets stretched thin, it’s not practical to expand the size of the museum’s existing building, particularly in a crowded urban environment. One museum just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was routinely taking in half a dozen new artifacts each day. The rapid rate of acquisition was quickly filling its storage shelves. With no room to expand outward and no budget to move to a bigger building, the mushrooming collections were overwhelming the museum’s storage, jeopardizing the mission to collect and preserve these unique historical materials. The museum’s facilities manager tried an innovative solution suggested by a storage consultant, taking advantage of the storage room’s volume by adding a second level of storage racks with a mezzanine walkway. This solution in effect doubled the size of the museum’s storage without altering its footprint or forcing it to move to a larger building. This sort of outside-the-box thinking enables institutions and businesses of every kind to continue their mission even when faced with budget challenges. Sometimes all that’s needed is another point of view.
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