The Natural History Museum (NHM) welcomed its first guests on 18 April 1881, and it has since continuously expanded and evolved to become a world-class tourist attraction and top-tier science research centre. Today, the Museum holds close to a million of bird specimens, and represents more than 95% of the world’s known bird species. The Museum at Tring in Hertfordshire is home to the majority of bird collections, which are well-known among scientists around the world for ornithological research.
The Natural History Museum had a requirement for the taxidermy packing and exhibition transport from Wandsworth and Tring to NHM South Kensington. The Museum was looking for the methodology that could deliver the most benefit in terms of quality, economy and effectiveness.
Leveraged by years of experience in the relocation industry, Cube Fine Art Services has the knowledge, expertise and resources to seamlessly execute the move. The team put in place a rigorous procurement process and relocated the bird specimens to the new premise with minimum disruption to the Museum.
Cube Fine Art nominated three key members – a Project Director, Head of Operations and Lead Supervisor to lead the project. Together they have handled major relocations for the V&A, Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum, National Railway Museum, Science Museum, British Museum and other esteemed galleries and museums. The leaders will coordinate with each other and the supporting team to fulfil NHS’s requirements. The project spanned the course of seven days with the involvement of a pool of people operating between the sites.
Prior to the move, Cube Fine Art’s Director and Art technician completed an on-site survey with the Curator Leads at Wandsworth and Tring to agree and finalise the taxidermy list for packing and transportation from both locations to NHM South Kensington. In addition, the team completed the measurements of bespoke crates for transit. To minimise crate production, Cube Fine Art’s specialists carefully inspect and identify which taxidermy birds could be crated or boxed together. The fragility, size, weight, and any special handling requirements were all taken into consideration.
The process of examining and packing was estimated to be from 45 to 60 minutes per each bird taxidermy, depending on the size and complexity. Different types of packing materials were chosen based on the nature and the specifications of the taxidermy, which the NHS’s Curators approved in advance.
Each bird was packed in a bespoke crate with precision and dedication to ensure complete safety and protection during transport. Each crate was labelled with information such as the contents, fragility and the printed picture of the bird placed in an envelope outside. The team ensured the birds were packed upright and in a pre-agreed order using skates, palbacs and pallet trucks.
Our Senior Supervisor, Art technician and Porter meticulously loaded crates and boxed taxidermy onto the air ride suspension lorry – providing higher shock absorbency during the move. The specimens were securely fastened in their packing crates, which were loaded on the floor with no double stacking to be relocated to the correct final location point.
At the end of each day, Cube specialists handed the completed packing list and signed off with NHM representatives. Throughout the exhibition transport, Cube Fine Art’s Senior Supervisor collaborated closely with the Museum to ensure that the move was completed safely, efficiently, and with minimal disruption.
Our team carried out the inspection to determine how secure the specimen and perch were attached to the wooden L-frames, L-brackets or wooden plinths.
The specimens were put in wooden framed crates wrapped in polyethylene, or polyethylene boxes with Acid free tissue inside. The porters also used Plastazote or polyethylene foam to prevent movement during the exhibition transport. Extra care was given to ensure no damage to the birds’ long feathers.
You can also learn more about the diversity of birds and discover the world’s birds through an online exhibition conducted by the NHM and Google Arts & Culture here.