Collections Care and Facilities

Collecting, caring for, and conserving things together comprise the most important and defining role of any responsible museum, archive, or library. According to the American Association of Museum’s Code of Ethics, good museum care ensures “that collections in custody are lawfully held, protected, secured, unencumbered, cared for, and preserved.”  

 

In the Regenstein Pacific Laboratory, conservators stabilize and treat the Museum's collections. The lab is also used for research: on the numerous materials used to make objects throughout the world, and how they change or deteriorate with age. The goal is to devise more fully successful ways to slow down or prevent deterioration.

 

In our below-ground 180,000 sq. ft. Collections Resource Center (CRC), registrars, collection managers, conservators, and others document, catalog, and safeguard not only the Museum’s Pacific collections, but also those from North America, Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere.

Sometimes, collections care means returning people and objects to their homeland.  Learn about repatriation of Maori human remains here.

Catherine Hargreaves conserves boar tusks on a breast ornament from Paupa (© 2008, Dale F. Simpson Jr.)

Regenstein Pacific Laboratory

On August 31, 2002, the Regenstein Pacific Conservation Laboratory, a 1,600 square-foot conservation and collections management facility, opened in the Museum’s Traveling the Pacific exhibition. Located on the Museum's upper floor, the Regenstein Laboratory conserves objects from our Pacific collections and elsewhere. With more than 1.5 million objects in the Museum’s anthropology collections, this laboratory showcases the our commitment to protect all our collections for future generations.

 

Inside this special climate-controlled facility, conservators and collections managers work diligently to improve the health and well-being of countless objects from our anthropology collections.

Collections Resource Center

The Field Museum has collections of more than 25 million cultural objects. Through its extensive research programs, this number continues to grow by about 1% each year.  While the museum has over 1 million square feet of floor space, collections storage space has long been a growing problem. To address this storage predicament, the museum began construction of the Collections Resource Center, or CRC, in 2001. The state-of-the-art facility currently houses nearly 2 million objects in an innovative, climate-controlled environment. The CRC adds over 186,000 square feet of space to the museum’s storage capacity.

 

On September 12, 2005, The Field Museum officially opened this $65 million project, and began the gargantuan task of moving some of the museum’s biggest and largest collections (including the Pacific Collections) into their new home.

The CRC is much more than just a safe storage environment. The new space houses x-ray equipment, 10 scientific laboratories, a darkroom, and cryogenic storage units for freezing and storing specimens of tissue, blood, and DNA. 

 

There is also a seminar room and workrooms where staff, researchers, and visiting scholars work with collections.  Since the Field Museum is a collections-based research institution, this new facility is helps us honor our vital core mission to learn about our collections and disseminate the knowledge that we acquire, both for research and public education in the US and beyond.

 
 

Background image: Port Moresby by Hitchster. CC BY 2.0 / cropped and desaturated from original

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