Manitoba Museum Hosts National Collections Conservation Training

Winnipeg, MB (March 12, 2019): The Manitoba Museum is proud to host RE-ORG Canada, a collections and conservation training program for museum staff conducted by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) on March 12 to 14. This program welcomes museum professionals from: Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife (NT), Northern Life Museum & Cultural Centre in Fort Smith (NT), Prince Albert Museum in Prince Albert (SK), MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina (SK), and Winnipeg River Heritage Museum in St-Georges (MB).

“It is no secret that most museums struggle with providing adequate storage conditions – not only in Canada but all over the world… two out of three museums are in this situation, according to a recent international survey,” says Simon Lambert, Senior Advisor of Collection Preservation for CCI and coordinator of the event. “And it is a significant problem because most museums are small- to medium-sized organizations with limited resources; it’s more crucial to provide tools that are adapted for their specific reality by maximizing existing space, equipment, and human resources.”

CCI’s training program has been conducted over the past year with participants to improve access to their collections in storage and to improve preservation conditions. This week’s training session, RE-ORG Prairies and North: Adventures in Storage Reorganization, includes a practicum project (made possible thanks to funding received from the Museums Assistance Program  (MAP) of the Department of Canadian Heritage). The Manitoba Museum’s history collections (including ceramics, glass, artworks, and furniture) will be reorganized using the RE-ORG Method, designed by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) with the support of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). This step-by-step tool will help smaller museums tackle the reorganization of museum storage areas for better access, visibility, and space efficiency. The method also ensures that adequate equipment and storage furniture is available, that the space is functional, and that all the necessary procedures are in place (available free online: https://www.iccrom.org/section/preventive-conservation/re-org).

RE-ORG Canada, the CCI-led initiative, aims to build professional and institutional capacity in storage reorganization by encouraging the creation of RE-ORG networks across Canada (Ontario: 2015, Atlantic: 2016, Quebec: 2017, West: 2018, Prairies and North: 2019). Having gone through the process first-hand, museums in these regional networks will be able to advise other museums on how to improve their own storage conditions.

When storage is disorganized, museum collections are at higher risk of damage and loss, and it is all the more challenging to make them accessible to the public. Typically, about 95% of museum objects are housed in storage rather than on display, so this is a significant problem for many museums.

“The Association of Manitoba Museums (AMM) is happy to be a partner in this initiative that provides practical solutions for museums in our region while also contributing to the knowledge and best practice of the international museum community,” says Monique Brandt, Executive Director of the AAM.