New storage for suitcases and change in the storage system of historical objects
At the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site, work is underway on comprehensive modernisation of the warehouses for historic suitcases. The project is connected with the extensive investments in the warehouses to ensure maximum safety of archival materials and collections, all of which constitute a material witness to the victims of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz.
“We are creating such conditions for the storage of each group of objects to minimise any risks or adverse environmental impacts,” underlined Dr Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Museum. “The comprehensive solutions involve choosing the appropriate warehouse equipment, individual packaging, safety lighting, precision air conditioning along with the fire extinguishing systems so that they do not interfere with the makeup of the objects,” says Cywiński.
In the modernised storage warehouses, renovation works have been carried out and a fire safety system, new lighting and professional fitted cabinets to store objects have been installed.
“Up to now, the suitcases in storage within the collections of the Auschwitz Museum were stored on open shelves, standing on their narrow side. They should, however, be protected in locked cabinets, lying on their largest side,” describes Magdalena Emilewicz-Pióro, who is leading the project on behalf of the Museum. “This shift in the system of storage will prevent deformation and will store the valises in an optimal way,” stresses Emilewicz-Pióro.
The new cabinets are lightweight, safe and made of flame-resistant materials. For better use of available storage space, the heights between the extendable perforated shelves are individually selected depending on the size of the object. The cabinets have been made according to a special order from the conservators according to a previously prepared and tested a prototype.
“When designing the cabinets, several aspects such as the size of suitcases, available storage space and issues concerning conservation of the objects was examined. The individuality of this solution lies in the fact that the cabinets have been adapted to the suitcases and not vice versa, as is often the case with the purchase of standard furniture,” explains Magdalena Emilewicz-Pióro.
Placing of the historical suitcases in the new cabinets will begin after completion of their prior disinfection. Within the framework of the project, more than 1,800 of the most recognisable suitcases, which are inseparably connected to the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, will be secured. The remaining 3,800 objects are presented in the permanent exhibition of the Museum.
Currently, work is being completed on the first of three planned warehouses for suitcases, and later this year, the next two will be prepared. The entire project is part of a complex project to change the system of storing objects at the Auschwitz Memorial Site.
“Furthermore, the system of storing other objects placed in one of the warehouses used to store suitcases has been changed. We have designed and constructed new boxes of acid-free cardboard, whereas objects made of metal have also been secured in the anticorrosive packaging,” says Magdalena Emilewicz-Pióro. “We checked the state of preservation and also divided the objects in terms of the material they are made of. We separated the particular group of objects made of plastic material, which have been transferred to a separate warehouse where objects solely made of this material are stored. Separation is important due to the fact that materials subjected to processes of destruction may threaten the remaining collections made from other materials,” adds Emilewicz-Pióro.
The modern suitcase warehouses are being created within the framework of the ;"Auschwitz — Preserving Authenticity — nine tasks for the years 2012-2015” project and is co-financed by a direct grant from the European Commission directly under the Europe for Citizens programme.
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