An experiential museum walking through the history of making

Polstore explains the fit out process for its clients including The Museum of Making, The Civic Hall and the Midland Railway Study Centre.

In 2021, Polstore played a key part in the redevelopment of a 300-year-old Derbyshire site into a landmark museum. Our work at Polstore is always driven by the needs and vision of our client – together we create efficiency, enhance display & accessibility, improve attitudes and motivate people within the workplace. The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill is no exception.

This was a unique opportunity for Polstore to bring the wealth of experience delivering exceptional storage solutions to the industrial and heritage sectors together. The Museum of Making charts the 300-year history of manufacturing and industrial development in Derby.

At the heart of the museum is The Assemblage, which showcases the institution’s collection of 30,000 objects in full. The visitor experience is facilitated by a grid system so that items of interest can be easily found – though you’d fail to miss the seven tonne Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine suspended in the atrium upon arrival!

Our team were responsible for the fit out of The Assemblage and The Civic Hall. Always at front of mind was the need to make the collections visible, but secure. Display drawer cases were essential to this. Sealed display chambers can easily be created using 6 or 6.4mm toughened glass together with ABLOY locks with a seal within the base tray of the drawer.

Centrally in one of the main display galleries we installed art picture racking within a scaffold frame as a practical, safe and highly cost-effective way to display artwork. It was constructed from heavy duty steel mesh panels which paintings and artefacts can be suspended from. A neat design feature is the mesh is welded inside the frame to avoid snagging.

What made this project slightly out of the ordinary was the clients desire to create an industrial finish. Instead of a powder coat colour, we clear lacquered the metalwork to display the weld marks and swirl blemishes in the metal caused by the manufacture process.

We have a number of vertical market sectors we supply into and as a business we are always gaining experience and sharing resources from each one. In this case both engineering and heritage came together with our industrial workbench range being a key element in the display area. A surprise was the selection of RAL 6011 green for the metal! A classic machine tool colour.

Did you know that Polstore, back in the 1960s, originally supplied metal cabinets only to UK machine tool manufacturers and engineering firms? This all changed when a curator from the Museum of London visited our stand at a machine tool expo and saw the potential benefit of using them to store artefacts. They would replace wooden cabinets which off gassed and could damage the assets they are designed to protect.

The largest contribution to this installation was the archive shelving system and integrated glass showcase for the Midland Railway Study Centre (MRSC), the largest collection of Midland Railway documents, ephemera and objects available to researchers anywhere. Now housed in supremely organised vertical columns of bespoke static shelving, thanks to the design skill of Bauman Lyons Architects it opens this comprehensive collection to the visiting public.

The Museum of Making is here to tell the story of Derby’s 300-year history of making, and to inspire new creativity. By bringing visitors as close to the collections as possible, allowing them to take a walk through history, we believe the museum will become a hub for the creatives and makers of the future.

Find out more about Polstore via Museum + Heritage Advisor’s Directory.