Delta Flight Museum
HELPING A CORPORATE MUSEUM PROTECT HISTORY
The Delta Flight Museum welcomes the public to explore aviation history, celebrate Delta’s story and people, and discover the future of flight. Located in Delta’s original 1940s-era aircraft hangars in Atlanta, the museum was founded in 1995 and completed a major renovation in 2014.
The 68,000-square-foot attraction serves as exhibit, archive, and collections space, and the hangar can also be rented for special events. Historic aircraft are on display, along with exhibits that tell Delta’s story. In addition to the public display area, the museum also includes a climate-controlled collections area fitted with Spacesaver compactors and cabinets that keep objects secure, organized, and easily accessible.
Corporate history often reflects popular culture, and Delta is no exception: Flight attendants’ attire, on-board china, and other aspects of in-flight service reflect changing tastes and attitudes throughout the past century. “These collections are part of history,” said Associate Archivist Tina Seetoo. “I’m referring not only to the company’s history, but also to the history of Atlanta, and the history of Atlanta becoming a gateway to the world.”
Like many museums, most corporate museums are continually expanding their collections and a fraction of any collection is on public display at any given time. Collections storage was a challenge for the Delta Flight Museum, and the museum’s curator and preservation staff wanted to create a better solution to keep collections accessible and organized.
The collections area was housed in a former maintenance operations area consisting of several small rooms. Even with the non-load-bearing walls removed, the resulting space was somewhat odd, with several doors leading into the collections area and a variety of overhead pipes and large structural columns intruding into the space.
“Our local Spacesaver consultants came over to have a look, and we were able to work out a great plan,” Seetoo said. “We realized if we moved a pipe, we could take advantage of the room’s vertical space. They also suggested using the columns as a “break” in the mobile shelving system.”
Their local Spacesaver representatives helped design a system that was custom-made for the unique facility. Working in partnership with the museum staff, they designed compact mobile storage systems, also called compactors, that would save space, save staff time, and protect collections. The system consists of a variety of storage solutions:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]drawers for insignia and other small items
[if !supportLists]· [endif]shelving for artifacts and archival boxes
[if !supportLists]· [endif]textile racks to store large maps and other rolled items
[if !supportLists]· [endif]cabinets for uniforms and other apparel
“Don’t plan for storing what you have. Plan for the future.” – Tina Seetoo Associate Archivist
While the system was designed to protect the past, the collections area also has room to grow in the future. At her prior position at the Georgia Archives, Seetoo observed how that institution installed the in-floor rail system before additional carriages and storage furniture were needed or purchased. By planning ahead and installing the rails during construction or renovations, museums can be ready to accept new carriages as collections grow. Seetoo convinced her colleagues to pursue this strategy, and in 2017 an additional carriage was installed in the area.
By working with their Spacesaver representatives to carefully assess the collections area and the items to be stored, and by planning for growth, Seetoo and her
colleagues have created a smartstorage solution that will keep collections organized and accessible for decades to come. Seetoo offered this advice to others who might be undertaking a major collections area renovation: “Don’t plan for storing what you have. Plan for the future.”
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