Chapter 26: Visible Storage

Linda Edquist, Smithsonian National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, MRC 570 PO Box 37012, Washington DC 20013-7012; Claire F. Larkin, Smithsonian American Art Museum (ret.), 2318 Belleview Avenue, Cheverly MD 20785

The current trend is for museums and universities to make their collections accessible to the greatest degree possible. Advances in digital technology has allowed them to put collection images and information on-line. In addition, a growing number have brought their collections from back of house secure storage to more public visible storage facilities, making it possible to keep collections safe and secure at the same time they are made accessible to a much larger and broader audience. No two visible storage facilities are alike; they differ by virtue of their collections, the number or square feet they comprise, whether or not they can be visited by appointment only or anytime during open hours, and how much (if any) interpretation of collections and programming is provided. The information in this chapter covers a variety of facilities types and outlines a number of things to consider when planning and implementing visible storage.

Key words: open storage, study storage, visible storage, cabinet-of-curiosities