“The collection has exceptional social, spiritual and communal significance. This can be identified through its interpretative capacity, the ways in which it can be used to engage with communities and the potential it has to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”The Collections Conservation Management Plan
The site and collections of the DLC are instrumental in helping to define the design and interpretation proposals.
The importance of the site as the birthplace of David Livingstone has inspired certain elements of the second floor design - focussing on his childhood spent in the mill and in particular the birth-room. The building is in itself an interpretation tool.
The building as the envelope for the displays is also a key consideration. The Collections Management Plan confirms the building’s fair condition, although moisture penetration must be addressed. Hoskins Architects and Andrew Wright are addressing the sustainability of the building and its suitability to house the collection, protecting against the external climate and acting as a physical barrier to the environmental risks to the collections.
As part of development of the Collections Conservation Management Plan, condition surveys using CAT (Condition Assessment Tool) were undertaken on a sample of objects to determine the collection’s current state (the previous survey was conducted in 1993). The objects assessed were predominately those currently on display or those being considered for future display, and a random selection of remaining objects.
The results revealed that most items within the categories of paintings, archives, costume and textiles, books and artefacts showed some damage, a result of poor storage conditions. Costume and textiles, books, and artefacts were deemed in need of conservation attention prior to redisplay. Improving the display conditions and more importantly the storage conditions for the collection will safeguard the sustainability of the collection.
The Collections Conservation Management Plan recommends that display conditions should protect objects against risk of “fire, flood theft, vandalism or accidental handling/ touching, and the provision of adequate display methods materials, environmental control and monitoring. Well-constructed and properly sealed display cases can offer good protection against environmental fluctuations and also increase security of the items on display”.
In response to the recommendations outlined, and the current conditions of the objects on display, Event recommends that the majority of showcases should be high spec, internally controlling environments to a steady level, maintaining the condition of the objects. Gold or ivory objects, or weapons require alarmed cases which has been factored into current design proposals.
At the Detail Design stage, once object lists begin to be finalised, the condition for each object selected for display will be investigated and confirmed to ensure the requirements for display are being met.