Often the best storage solutions require tailored, innovative design. When the Tennessee State Museum engaged GHP to reimagine a portion of the old Tennessee State Prison into an expertly climatized storage environment, we knew the first step in our design process was to take an in-depth look into the museum’s unique archive needs.
With artifacts spanning from prehistoric time to modern history, the Tennessee State Museum houses some of the state’s most valuable memories. With plans underway for the museum to relocate to a new home, a secure solution was needed for storing and preserving an ever-growing collection of state treasures.
It was critical to identify how much storage was available and how much was needed––along with environmental factors key to the artifacts’ conservation. Looking to bridge the gap between these issues, GHP began by taking a close look at each artifact––ranging from items as small as a coin to as large as a cabin. After assessing and categorizing each item, our team organized them into a pallet racking system.
Developing five different heights of pallets on which artifacts could be stored, objects were able to be easily moved in and out of the racking system. An additional mobile component was designed, allowing storage racks to be accessed at the press of a button or the crank of a wheel. GHP also created tags for each artifact to clearly identify where items should be stowed or moved.
Most importantly, GHP worked closely with consultants to custom engineer the space’s HVAC system––establishing an optimal interior climate that ensured the artifacts’ long-term preservation. The 25,000 square foot space was renovated and expertly conditioned for office space, a loading dock, conservatory work and climatized storage. An additional 22,300 square foot space was utilized for unconditioned storage. The renovation also gave the museum a satellite viewing location, allowing guests to experience artifacts even when they are not on official exhibition.
Impressed by the tailor-made solution, the museum’s faculty appreciated the detail invested in the design. Ultimately providing a custom fit and climate for the museum’s collections, the storage system also maximized the available space in a building that had a history of its own. GHP’s customized plan gave the space a new purpose and a new history as home and stage to the state’s irreplaceable treasures.