When I worked at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, we talked about a lovely dream – to have a beautiful, state-of-the-art open storage facility. See, MSI’s collection is lovely, but the institution’s mission and vision have changed dramatically since most of the collection was acquired, which leaves a small amount of exhibit space in which to feature it. Open storage would enable the Museum to highlight items from the collection that are still relevant to the institution’s collecting mission, but may not otherwise be on exhibit.
Some museums are able to turn this dream into reality, such as the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elkhorn, Iowa. (As for MSI, I’m still hoping for “some day”. They do have “Out of the Vault”, which is along these lines.)
Anyhow, when it comes to “open” or “visible” storage, the Brooklyn Museum of Art does it right. The Luce Center for American Art (also, see here) is located just off one of the American galleries, and it allows students and visitors to view many selected items from the collection that they might not otherwise see. I highly suggest you make it a part of your next visit.
Per their website:
Welcome to the Luce Center for American Art at the Brooklyn Museum. This program allows you to access information about the approximately 2,000 objects on view in the Luce Center’s Visible Storage • Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.
And, of course, the 2,000 items they curated for the space are lovely, just lovely.
I can’t wait for my next trip to the Brooklyn Museum of Art! We didn’t even see the mummy!