Collections Rehousing Project

The Pick Museum of Anthropology houses approximately 22,000 objects that are used for research, teaching, and exhibits. Museum staff are responsible for the long-term care and preservation of these objects so they can be accessed by campus and community long into the future. In 2014, the Museum was one of only eleven museums in Illinois to receive a $150,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to begin a collections rehousing project to ensure the preservation of more than 3,200 objects in our cultural collections, increase accessibility for faculty and students and provide valuable hands-on learning experiences to students interested in working in museums.

The collections rehousing project has culminated in a state-of-the art-compact storage system and professionally constructed mounts for over 3,200 objects in the collection, allowing for enhanced research opportunities, increased accessibility for museum staff and researchers, and training for museum studies students and the community at large. Read more below and see images of the Pick Museum’s proudest milestones from the collections rehousing project.

Collections Stewardship in Action

Work on the rehousing grant began in January 2015 with museum staff and eight students working a total of 1,672 hours to move 3,262 objects from the Museum’s collections storage space to the exhibit space in order to make room for the installation of new compact storage cabinets. Students continued to work through the summer months with curator, Laura McDowell Hopper to move 200 oversized objects to their new home locations in collections storage. The new compact storage system was successfully installed in October 2015.

Click on the thumbnail to view images of collections stewardship in action.

Teaching about Collections Care

To improve the preservation of every unique object in the collection, museum staff, volunteers and student workers began making custom storage mounts before rehousing each object in its new compact storage home. In fall 2015, the Pick Museum designed a living exhibit in the museum space called, Collections Rehousing Project to explain mount making to visitors as they watched and interacted with mount makers. Exhibit labels described the grant project, how it empowers the museum to achieve best practices, trains and employs students, and ultimately preserves the collection. Throughout 2016 and 2017, students and volunteers continued to build custom object mounts and move over half of the permanent collection objects into new homes in the compact storage system. In the spring semester 2017, nine student workers completed 452 mounts for 861 collection objects! The museum’s staff also conducted three workshops on basic collections management, object preservation and collections moves for several volunteer-run historical societies and museums in DeKalb County.

During the 2017- 2018 academic year, graduate assistant and NIU Museum Studies student, Rachelle Wilson-Loring developed five short videos to document the project’s progress and be used as instructional mount-making and collections management training for future students and museum professionals. Each video is less than five minutes in length and provides instructions on how to make one of five standard storage mounts. Visit the Pick Museum’s YouTube channel to view videos and learn how to make your own object mounts!

Click on the thumbnail to view images of teaching with our collections.

Stay Involved and Learn More

The final phase of the Collections Rehousing Grant will be completed in spring 2018. Get a firsthand look at the improvements made by the Collections Rehousing Project by booking at tour and staying connected with the project by following us on Facebook. The Pick Museum Student Advocacy Board will also host a public Visit the Vault tour, showcasing the improvements made during the Collection Rehousing Project. Sign up on the Museum’s email list to get the latest event updates!

Click on the thumbnail to view images of staying involved with our collections.

Thank You for Investing in Our Future

Through the generous support of the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Endowment, the museum was able to provide the required matching funds to receive this generous IMLS federal grant award. Without this support, it would be impossible for the museum to secure grants and complete important projects that ensure the long-term preservation and safety of the collection. The grant has empowered the museum to provide students with professional, resume-building skills and professional development opportunities. 

Contact Us

James B. and Rosalyn L. Pick
Museum of Anthropology
Cole Hall 114


10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The museum is closed during university holidays and the summer.

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