There is a great history behind the inception of the Hearst museum collection in addition to that of the objects within it. The Phoebe Hearst Museum located in the Kroeber building on Berkeley’s campus dates back to 1901. Since its establishment the collection of ethnological and anthropological items has grown to 3.8 million. The collection increased dramatically in size between 1940 -1960 upon receipt of several African items in addition to a few other specific cultures. Today the museum is undergoing an laborious move in effort to provide their collection with the best storage facilities available. It is their utmost concern that the collections are given the correct respect due to their direct ties to living and historical cultures.
Most all of the 1.7 million objects the museum is relocating have not been touched in decades, requiring them to pass through a long process before reaching the shipping box. The process begins with objects coming out of storage areas. The objects come down in groups and are inspected, cleaned, and repaired. From there they are photographed for the museum’s internal database and for a public database called Delphi. They are given a barcode with all their specific details such as name, date, material, provenance and more. The objects are then taken to the preparators for packing and boxing up. Due to the volume of objects needing to move, the Hearst museum conservation team will be spending just enough time with each object to ensure they are in a stable condition and no more.
Fortunately for the Hearst museum, their director was able to secure a nice sum of funds through Berkeley University to properly equip them in the move. The money enabled them to purchase nice archival packaging and storage materials. They are able to hire on extended staff members to expedite the process, being that their former headcount would not suffice. Apart from all the tangible assets the funds acquire, they ensure a higher quality for this move. With this move the museum will be able to update the documentation of their collection in a way they've been unable to in the past.
You can follow the current progress and process of the move on the Heart Museum's blog.