Protecting History with Museum Collections Storage at Chicago’s Field Museum
In the heart of downtown Chicago lives the visual history of how our world came to be. From mummies and dinosaurs to a DNA discovery center and an exhibit on conservation, the Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. With over 24 million specimens in its collection, and a growth rate of 200,000 items per year, the museum is no stranger to the specific needs of museum storage.
Due to the rapid flux of artifacts, the Museum recognized a larger problem than simply having the right kind of storage—they didn’t have enough storage. The museum was quickly outgrowing its collections storage space—the delicacy of the collections necessitated specific storage, but in the current facility, it simply couldn’t happen.
A new facility is what they needed, and several years later, the Museum’s Collection Resource Center (CRC) gave them the opportunity to design the ideal storage for specific collections. In addition to museum collections storage, the facility was also going to double as an elaborate research facility for a worldwide network on visiting scientists. The two-level, 180,000 square foot building needed to protect collections while allowing accessibility to these scientists—so any storage systems created had to offer utmost protection with easy accessibility.