Smart storage opens up archive gallery space
“Bruynzeel has helped to provide access to archival material that would not otherwise be made available to the public.”
Caroline Willatt, Collections Team Leader, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum
Cheltenham Art Gallery dates back to 1898, when the third Baron de Ferrieres, a former Mayor and MP for Cheltenham, gifted 43 paintings, mostly from Belgium and the Netherlands, to the town. Together with a donation of £1,000 towards the building of a gallery in which to house the artworks, the Baron’s largesse enabled the gallery to open to the public in 1899. In 1907 a museum was added, next door to the art gallery. The museum occupies part of a Regency building on Clarence Street designed as the Cheltenham Public Library by architect William Hill Knight. Together they formed Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum.
In the early 2000s, linked to its move to become an independent self governing trust, the gallery and museum prepared for the most significant update to its estate in over a century.
With the aid of various charities and Heritage Lottery funding the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum was awarded funds to design a new building and extended space to house the museum collection and to enable more items to be viewed by the public. In 2007 a national architectural design competition was launched by RIBA Competitions to extend the building. Through this process architects Berman Guedes Stretton were selected by Cheltenham Borough Council and the extension was completed in 2012 to provide 1250m² of additional gallery space and ancillary facilities, including dedicated education and outreach spaces, an open archive, cafe and shop. The extended site reopened in October 2013 as The Wilson, Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum.
“By providing a cleverly designed solution, Bruynzeel has helped us in our ambition to create a multifunctional space, allowing the opportunity for research, display and storage in an open archive gallery.”
Caroline Willatt, Collections Team Leader
High Quality Archive and Display Storage
Bruynzeel Storage Systems won the tender to supply all The Wilson’s storage and display requirements for the new extension and worked closely with the architects to design the perfect solution to meet the needs of the museum to open up its archives.
The principal brief was to create a display and storage area that would enable the public to browse a variety of exhibits, as well as be easily accessible for staff to change and update displays. The primary methodology was to provide a high density on-site repository, utilising Sysco Compactus mobile shelving and picture racking, combined with a range of display cabinets that are straightforward for staff to operate, while remaining secure and tamper-proof.
Secure, Tamper-Proof Cabinets for Gallery
In the public area, large format bookcases line the walls, together with six drawer units with 1500mm wide glass doors. In the centre of the room are six drawer cabinets, each fitted with glass display lids. This glass features a translucent integrated seal, which when closed is fully dustproof and invisible to the viewer. While this posed challenges in terms of weight-handling, this solution provided the best experience for museum staff and the viewing public.
“Bruynzeel has helped to provide access to archival material that would not otherwise be made available to the public,” said Caroline Willatt, Collections Team Leader at The Wilson. “The space has been made more flexible. We are able to change displays more easily and bring collections together in ways that were not possible before.”
“The Paper Store houses changing displays from The Wilson’s fascinating collection of archival items relating to Edward Wilson and the Wilson Family Collection, the Emery Walker Library, Cheltenham history, the Arts and Crafts Archive and more. Visitors and researchers especially enjoy opening the drawers to explore our collections,” explained Caroline.
“By providing a cleverly designed solution, Bruynzeel has helped us in our ambition to create a multifunctional space, allowing the opportunity for research, display and storage in an open archive gallery,” said Caroline. The resulting open archive gallery and repository has ensured The Wilson has a flexible storage facility fit for the 21st Century.
Photography by Simon Hadley www.simonhadley.co.uk