The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum

The Client

The Natural History Museum is a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre. The museum uses its unique collections and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today. They care for more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years and welcome more than five million visitors annually.

The Project

During 2014 the museum had a requirement for the relocation of a large collection (3,000+ items) of unique, delicate, irregularly-shaped and heavy animal skulls with horns and antlers. The items had to be individually wrapped and packed in line with a strict methodology and relocated to the museum’s off-site storage facility.

The items had not been moved in over 30 years, and were of vast scientific value therefore the curators put in place a rigorous procurement process. In order to qualify for this work we had to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire, followed by a competitive tender and several evaluation meetings with the curators.

We successfully satisfied the museum’s criteria and were appointed to carry out the work which took place between July and September 2014.

The Solution

We assigned a small and highly trained team which was led on-site by our operations director, Brian Kelly. The team worked their way through the specimens, carefully wrapping each one individually using a double layer of acid-free tissue, foam pads for sensitive areas, bubble wrap and heavy duty plastic sheeting, before packing into 3 ply cardboard boxes with flow-chips to prevent movement. We recommended a 40-day programme which involved using a pool of people operating between the two sites.

The Process

The specimens had to be transported from their position inside the museum, down several stories to the basement, and into our air-ride suspension vehicle, where they were taken in batches to the storage site. In order to keep to the proposed timeframe and budget, we arranged for pallets to be hired to the museum. At the storage site the specimens were loaded onto the pallets whilst the relevant area in the museum was cleared. We continued to unpack the specimens at the pace necessary to ensure the safety of the specimens, and for organisation and re-hanging to be carried out.

This was a very challenging project, involving a vast quantity of specimens, each one unique and of significant scientific value. Following completion of the transport of the specimens to the storage site, we provided an “on request” unpacking service in line with the curator’s schedule.

Project Highlights

  • Working closely with curators and achieving a smooth relocation project.
  • Our specialist team relished the challenge of working with a unique and fascinating collection of specimens, putting their skills through a rigorous test.
  • Equipment and procedures were adapted as the project developed, allowing for flexibility in the pace of relocating specimens to new storage positions. Working responsively and reactively when issues arose.
  • Occasional assistance with hanging of excessively heavy and unevenly weighted specimens.

Additional Information

The Natural History Museum is one of the UK’s top attractions, hosting visitors from all over the world. The museum is open daily and hosts a vast range of permanent collections including the iconic dinosaurs and mammals, a spectacular Earth zone, and a zone on the planet's evolution which uncovers the fascinating relationships between life forms and their environments. The museum also hosts a range of activities, special events and temporary exhibitions. To learn more click here.