Nigel Larkin was recently contracted to advise on the logistics, conservation issues and health and safety aspects
of a potential project to decant tens of thousands of delicate and irreplaceable specimens in the collections of the
Royal College of Surgeons in London and specimens on display in the associated Hunterian Museum.
The various collections curated at the Royal College of Surgeons contain unique specimens, not just historically unique but largely scientifically unique. That these often ancient and frequently extremely fragile specimens are still in amazingly good condition and are still so useful for study, research and display is testament to the care and attention they have received over the years as many of these specimens require regular checking and maintenance. It is rare to see such a well ordered and well curated collection of this size, the contents of which mostly look like they could be put on display at a momentís notice.
The report that Nigel delivered recommended a variety of processes and materials to be used to document, pack with archival materials and safely transport a wide range of displayed and stored museum specimens to a temporary offsite store. It also provided estimates of the time that would be needed to document, pack and decant the specimens from the various stores so that this can be costed, and gave estimates of the quantities required of the various packing materials recommended, with an indication of their likely costs.
This project entailed 9.5 daysí work in total: 5.5 days on site examining the collections and 4 days desk-based work researching the costs and writing up the detailed report which comprised 38 pages containing almost 22,000 words.