Beyond their often beautiful exhibition halls, many museums contain vast, hidden spaces in which objects may be stored, conserved, or processed. Museums can also include unseen archives, study rooms, and libraries which are inaccessible to the public. This collection of essays focuses on this domain, an area that has hitherto received little attention. Divided into four sections, the book critically examines the physical space of museum storage areas, the fluctuating historical fortunes of exhibits, the growing phenomenon of publicly visible storage, and the politics of objects deemed worthy of collection but unsuitable for display. In doing so, it explores issues including the relationship between storage and canonization, the politics of collecting, the use of museum storage as a form of censorship, the architectural character of storage space, and the economic and epistemic value of museum objects. Essay contributions come from a broad combination of museum directors, curators, archaeologists, historians, and other academics.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. Performances of Museum Storage 3. Visible storage, visible labour? 4. Serendipity, Transparency, and Wonder: The Value of Visitable Storage 5. Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, in conversation with Mirjam Brusius 6. To Store is to Save: Kenneth C. Murray and the founding of the Nigerian Museum, Lagos 7. “Essential Cure for Dying Museums”: Clarence S. Stein and Study-storage 8. ‘Storage’ and ‘Display’: Local Museum Practices in India 9. Home from Homes: The Movement of Things from Families to Museums 10. Home Storage: The Reception and Treatment of Domestic Collections of Aeronautica by the Science Museum and the National Air and Space Museum 11. Preserving Preservation. Maintaining Meaning in Museum Storage 12. Hidden Histories: Museum Taxidermy Rediscovered 13. The Animals went in Two by Two: Shifts in the Classification and Display of Taxidermy in the Seen and Unseen Spaces of Public Museums 14. Storage and Sharing: A Suggestion for the Future of Collections of forgeries' 15. Upstairs, Downstairs. The National Gallery's dual collections 16. The double life of ‘Oriental’ textiles at the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens: interpreting storage and displayability of Ottoman silks in 20th century Greece 17. Lying in wait: inertia and latency in the collection 18. Clothing, Care and Compromise: A Case Study of the Storage of the Hodson Shop Collection, 1983-2015 19. Loose Bodies: Reserve Collections, Curatorial Reserva
Mirjam Brusius is a research fellow at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, University of Oxford, UK
Kavita Singh is a Professor in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India