New Transport and Industry Museums Store Project

The museum has been working on a project over the last few years to create new and accessible storage for our transport collections.

Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the project. But work to prepare the new store for the arrival of the collection has been happening throughout the last year as regulations allowed.

The recent painting of a grid pattern on the floor of the store has been one of the most important steps forward. This grid allows our collections information team to document the location of each object as it moves into its new location. This is important to be able to locate and identify any object and make the collection more accessible.

Image: New painted grid marking out stores floor space.
New painted grid marking out stores floor space.

Planes, trains and… cars

The project team has worked to empty two of the old collections stores at Cultra since February, including moving 13 cars over three days last week!

For some objects we required outside help, in the form of the haulage company Donnell & Ellis, to move the large fuselage of a Sealand plane. This collaboration with Donnell & Ellis has been a good tester for the future movement of our larger collections to the new store later in the year.

Image: Donnell & Ellis Haulage helping to move the Sealand plane to its new home.
Donnell & Ellis Haulage helping to move the Sealand plane to its new home.

Unlocking potential

The new transport store is a big step in a process which aims to improve not only our stores but also to increase the accessibility of our collections. More work is ongoing to maximise the opportunities presented by this new storage. We hope to install a mezzanine with roller racking for the small object collection and bicycles, as well as stackable pallets for the motorbikes.

Along with this store move, we are moving to a new Collections Management database. This will allow us to improve our records for this collection by linking images, videos etc. to each object record. The result will be a system where everything is searchable, located, and recognisable.

This improved digital access is the first step in our aim to increase access to our collections through both physical and digital access.

Once the store is up and running, the collection will be accessible to the staff of National Museums NI. In time we aim to add access to external groups for supervised visits.

The images below gives a flavour of some of the work that has been going on and what the new store is beginning to look like with the collections installed.

Image: Vehicles moved into position on the flooring grid in the new store.
Vehicles moved into position on the flooring grid in the new store.
Image: Sealand plane being prepared for the move.
Sealand plane being prepared for the move.
Image: Almost ready to load the plane onto the Donnell & Ellis lorry.
Almost ready to load the plane onto the Donnell & Ellis lorry.