How to move 250,000 objects
As of January 2018, Ghelamco Arena became the new home for tens of thousands of collection objects from Ghent’s museums. The space under the stands was transformed into the new central museum depot of the City of Ghent. A part of the Collectie Gent (Ghent Collection) will be transferred to a second, new depot, which will open in September of this year, and which is situated next to Ghelamco Arena. In the next few months, the museum will do everything it can to ensure a seamless and efficient move.
Since March 1st, six collection managers of Ghent’s museums have embarked on a two-year journey. By March 2019, they will have to have completed the move and installation of the two depots. In October 2017, our colleagues, Steven Messiaen and Dirk Piers, started work on a comprehensive inventory of our collection. This involves sorting all the items, checking them for damage, cleaning them, checking the registration data in the database and making a photo of each item. They then pack the items, help move them all and see to it that they all are installed in the right place in the new depots.
“The registration process is quite time-consuming. We start with the basic registration of all the objects in this depot, checking the number and the location. Is the object really where it should be?” Steven: “We have already located objects that ended up in the wrong place as a result of a minor error”. The basic registration also means measuring, photographing and describing the object. Dirk: “What does it look like, what is it made of, what is its condition. We adhere to the internal rules for these descriptions.” Steven, who mainly focuses on taking photos of each object, also follows these guidelines. “Objects, of which a series exists, must be photographed separately and as a series. This means I must also take photos of the maker’s mark on the bottom of each item of a 70-piece dinner set, as well as a topdown view. Photographing all these items takes a lot of time, it’s true. But it is vital that we portray everything in the same, consistent way to provide digital access to the collection on the website.”
250,000 objects will be moved, that’s ±9400m³
Dirk: “I have to say I was quite astonished at how versatile our collection was. Design furniture, porcelain dinner sets, sewing machines, radios, toilets… It’s all here. You also discover the level of craftsmanship needed to create an object when you look at it in detail. I sometimes take a photo of some of the more special objects, such as a seventeenth-century Spanish office cabinet or a pretty sewing machine, for my own collection.” Steven: “One of the most remarkable objects I encountered on the job was a beautifully-engraved seal for communion wafers. I also like how varied the collection of Design Museum Gent is. It spans the period from the 16th century to contemporary design: we continue to add new acquisitions to the collection, keeping it very much alive.”