Located within the Hall itself, the Museum tells the story of the local region from the Dark Ages to the present day, through regular exhibitions, period rooms and a recreated Victorian open-air street with working craftsmen. A major part of the work of the Stockton Museums Service is the care of its large and varied collections, which date from 1925 when the Spence Bequest was received into the councils keeping (comprising mainly weaponry and military material but also fine art, silver and pewter). A few years later the Clephan Bequest of fine Art was received.
The main themes of the collections focus on domestic and working life over the last two hundred years, supporting the main street and room displays at Preston Hall Museum. Particular areas of interest include craft tools, toys and costume.
Pressure on storage space has limited the services' ability to accept donations to the collections. Realising this and wanting to make the collections more accessible to the public, the museum service secured Council funding combined with a grant from HLF to build a new Museum Store. There are three main store rooms within the building as different areas of the collections require different solutions to store them:
Large Object Collection Store - Situated on the ground floor this is the largest store room and is used to house a diverse range including road transport, bikes, large social history objects, archaeology items and ships models. The room has a high ceiling so the two types of storage product supplied here utilise this. There is a single deep bay of pallet racking which is 3.5m high.
In addition to this there are 16 bays of Widespan racking 3400mm x 600mm x 2145mm wide, each having five sets of beams with steel shelves and these are mounted on four mobile Gearwheel operated bases. These bays give a massive 70m3 of storage within a small space. A generous aisle of 1500mm allows access to these large objects.
Small Store - This is adjacent to the Large Object Collection Store and houses the art and weaponry collection. Here there are 14 Gearwheel operated mobile bases 3000mm long, each with a Qubiqa 'A' Frame 3300mm high, giving in total 277.20m2 of storage. The clever design of the 'A' Frame means that the paintings are 'canted' at an angle so when the mobile units move there is none of the 'flapping' of artwork that is often associated with vertical mesh frame types.
At one end of the Artwork storage is six no. Qubiqa A1 Plan Chests of which four have 50mm high drawers and two have 75mm high drawers. These are mainly used for storage of small objects.
First Floor Store - This store houses a diverse collection including toys, costumes, decorative art, pottery, small commercial items, small social history and fishing memorabilia. Comprising ten Gearwheel mobile and one static item 4.5m long x 2.5m high. Half of the units utilise shelving 450mm deep with 5 storage levels per bay. The other five mobile units use bays 500mm or 600mm deep, some with one garment rail for long costumes plus drawers underneath, others having two garment rails for shorter costumes with a combination of drawers underneath and/or shelves above.
The drawers are 100mm or 200mm high and have a twist handle which prevents them opening unassisted. In total there is 72 linear metres of hanging rail, 94 drawers and 302 linear metres of shelves in this store.In addition to this there is one Textile Rack comprising 2 bays of 3000mm high x 1500mm wide x 1100mm deep each with 3 sets of rollers 7 levels high for textiles rolls.
Collections Access Area - This is situated close by in an existing room, and is used to store Stockton Borough Councils archives and local history resources. The storage here consists of 5 Qubiqa Gearwheel mobile items 3.5m long x 3m high with shelves either 450mm or 500mm deep, one Gearwheel mobile with 'A' Frame for artwork storage and one single sided Gearwheel mobile with a decorative back and Floor-lock for security purposes. Qubiqa also provided two A1 Plan Chests and four A0 Plan Chests with drawers 75mm high. In addition there are five Viewing Cabinets 2.1m high x 1m wide x 520mm deep. Each has 5 shelves and doors with glass panels, which enable objects to be seen without having to be handled, whilst also keeping dust at bay.
All units were finished off with 'Brushed Silver' Jacob Jensen Design end panels and Index Modules. The client was keen to get away from the usual 'utilitarian' appearance of most Museum Stores and was very impressed with Qubiqa systems seen at Northumberland Museum Service, plus other references taken up.
This is now a real 'showpiece' store and one that the client is proud to show off to visitors. Qubiqa were specified by the client and the builder was instructed to place the order with Qubiqa. The client therefore got the system and quality they desired, within the budget they had set.