BMA finds space for storage off-site

Art: Warehouse on 28th Street will provide offices and space for storing publications, gift shop stock and carpentry.

Fine Arts

February 29, 2000|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

The Baltimore Museum of Art is running out of space and has purchased a nearby building to handle the shortage.

"Every square inch of the museum has is crammed with stuff, to the extent that stacks of publications have been piling up on the loading dock," said Mary Patton, the BMA's director of public relations.

The space crunch hasn't affected the museum's art yet, but it's made it tough to find more nooks and crannies to stow things.

The museum couldn't expand its current footprint on Art Museum Drive.

So it had to find extra storage space off-site in a nearby warehouse on 28th Street and Hampden Avenue that also has unused office space.

The museum was able to purchase the building and start relocating people and stuff.

(The city's other big art museum, the Walters Art Gallery, also has nearby off-site storage space downtown.)

Patton stressed that no art would be stored in the BMA's new facility. Instead, it will serve as storage space for excess merchandise for the museum gift shop, press runs of museum publications and various kinds of equipment.

"Basically, some of the functions that are performed here are going to move there," Patton said. "For example, carpentry and our crate storage will go there. We're also moving our registrar's office there."

BMA registrars are responsible for keeping track of all the records documenting the artworks in the museum's collection of about 85,000 objects.

They also make arrangements for insurance coverage and packing and shipping BMA objects when they go out on loan and for objects from other museums that come to Baltimore.

The BMA's registration department includes eight staff members who perform such chores, plus additional staffers who work in the department's photography and rights and reproductions sections.

Other departments to be shuffled include the staffs for public programs, the creative services, the finance, human resources and the museum gift shop receiving.

One big goal of the relocation will be to create what BMA officials call "logical adjacencies" -- the museum's inspired bureaucratese for putting people who do similar work in offices next to each other.

Despite the changes, curators will continue to propose exhibitions to a senior management team consisting of Bolger, her six deputy directors and various other top staff, who will then study all the logical adjacencies of the matter -- audience, budget, educational value, existing exhibition schedule and relevance to the museum's permanent collections -- before turning thumbs up or down on the project.

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