Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, in Alberta, Canada, has had about $1.5 million in renovations in the last year. In one spot, the renovations increased the museum’s exhibition area by 10,000 square feet. The renovations also improved the museum’s washrooms and office areas. But the renovations did nothing to address the museum’s other critical need: storage space for its archives.
“Our first priority was to improve our service to the public,” explained the museum’s executive director, Lorna Johnson. “That’s what the renovation has allowed us to do…..It didn’t address collection storage for either the museum or the archives.” Johnson said the museum still needs about 20,000 square feet of space for archival storage. The storage will have to be off-site, but it must also be secure and climate-controlled. At the moment, the museum is hoping to find a storage space to share with city archives, Red Deer College, and other art organizations, all of which are also in need of storage. “If we can all get together to build one structure, that isn’t so expensive,” Johnson commented. The city has also considered building a new museum, but does not expect to have a budget for a project of that magnitude for many years. The museum is also struggling with budget cuts, as its 2010 budget (nearly $882,000) has been reduced by 1.3 percent from its 2009 budget ($894,000).
Currently, the museum is storing some of its less fragile artifacts in the old ATCO building in Red Deer.
The lack of storage space is very frustrating to museum officials. When nationally recognized experts visit Red Deer, it takes officials a long time to track down certain exhibits, because so many collections are stored in a such a small and inadequate space. The museum also must turn down offers to host visiting collections, because there is no space to store exhibits that would have to be put into storage for a few months to make room for temporary special exhibits. “We regularly get offers of individual items or collections and we’re having to be extremely selective,” Johnson said. She fears that if the storage situation is not resolved, that at some point the museum will end up having to turn down a really amazing collection.
There are many self-storage facilities in the Red Deer area, several of which offer secure, climate-controlled storage space.