The collection has been undergoing a whole scale renovation to improve structural facilities, alleviate overcrowded conditions, automate label production, and replace degraded storage materials. Partly funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the renovation project is scheduled for completion in 2007. Beginning in 1998, the collection was stored offsite during the new building construction. In 2002 the skeletal collection returned to the Museum and in 2003 the fluid-preserved collection returned. The original intention was to identify problematic conditions and correct them. However, spot renovation turned to a whole scale renovation when the mixture of new and old storage systems revealed the inferior state of the original conditions. Renovating the entire collection is also allowing us to inventory our holdings and verify specimen information in our Specify 5.0 database. Thermal transfer printer and database link
The renovation of the entire collection required the automation of label production. We integrated a Datamax DMX-I-4308 thermal transfer printer with our Specify database for direct label production from a standard query. Specify queries were designed to print select fields with the entry of specific catalogue numbers. Generally, it requires less than one minute to generate each label. Labels are printed on archival quality plastic materials (biaxially oriented polypropylene) that feed from continuous rolls. For labels inserted into fluid-filled jars, a plastic tag is printed and individual labels are hand-cut. For collection boxes, two sizes of tear-away, adhesive-backed KIMDURA tags are printed, depending on the size of the storage box.
The renovation and rehousing of the 67,000 alcohol and formalin stored materials is nearly complete. Specimens are rehoused in one of four standard jar sizes (16oz, 32oz, 64oz, and 128oz), along with new fluid, label, and polyethylene lid. Jars and lids were standardized to simplify the inventory and prevent a mix-match of storage containers. Overcrowded conditions are alleviated by keeping a 2:1 ratio of fluid to specimens, with a maximum of 11 specimens per jar. The wet collection is stored in a newly constructed room that meets all fire and seismic standards including an elevated floor, moisture detection system, high flow-rate ventilation, and a dedicated foam-based fire suppression system. The room's storage capacity is greatly increased with the installation of compactor shelving units.
The storage conditions for 3,100 skeletal specimens were individually improved by replacing cardboard boxes with clear, acid-free, PET containers originally designed by the Canadian Museum of Nature. Skeletal specimens were transferred to a new container, individual elements organized on top of a black, Ethafoam pad, and new KIMDURA labels inserted into the container and adhered to the top. An array of box sizes were used, most being modular for easy placement in storage trays, and arranged in ten new Delta Design storage cabinets.