The challenges of the building were predominantly the mezzanines. One unit did have a lift but it arrived over half a metre above ground level. To resolve this, we provided staging built in pieces to allow a simple loading of our vehicle direct from the lift. Where the older store had no lift to the mezzanine level, our team had to complete a vast amount of manual handling up and down the staircases. A major change we made to the move methodologies was to use a fork-lift to lower packed metre crates full of books to ground level from the library located on the mezzanine. The combined weight of this part of the archive totalled over 30 tonnes, so the physical wear and tear on our crew carrying packed crates of books down stairs would have been unacceptable.
As is common with a project of this size, we relied heavily on the experience of our technical staff to problem solve as they go. Many of the day-to-day issues were handled by our on-site team and the long-term planning of resources and preparation was completed before we moved on to a new collection.
We supplied one large crate to be re-used for the four largest globes, plus various smaller lightweight crates, and trolleys to be used multiple times for different items.
As the core members of the teams remained the same throughout the 4 months, everyone saw the project through to completion. For the packing team at the old store, there were some opportunities to see the new site filling with the objects they had handled. The technicians slowly realised they were a major part of the re-storing of a collection in a new purpose-built facility and that the gradually emptying space of the old store would soon become obsolete.
Everyone involved felt a moment of pride when it was revealed we had successfully moved 37,000 objects and approximately 2,500 linear metres of archival materials. This was a poignant project for our team and we were privileged to have been a part of an event marking an exciting new chapter for the museum.
See how our technicians completed this ambitious project by viewing the film, here.
You can also read more about the relocation by visiting the Royal Museums Greenwich website.