Expanding and Protecting the Vaults for PMA’s Fine Art Collections
Pensacola Museum of Art
In 1954, local members of the American Association of University Women saw the need for a venue to present traveling art exhibitions, lectures, films and other cultural presentations, offer art classes for both children and adults, and provide public meeting space. In order to realize their vision for an arts center, the women collaborated with others in the community and created the Pensacola Art Association (PAA). The PAA, which became the Pensacola Museum of Art, Inc. (PMA) in 1982, leased the Old City Jail, built in 1909, from the City of Pensacola and later purchased the building in 1988. Today, this building offers a primary venue for fine arts exhibitions and arts education for the PMA. The mission of PMA is to be a bridge to the visual arts for the diverse populations of Pensacola and the surrounding communities by: providing an array of stimulating exhibitions in the historic building; collecting and preserving works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries with an emphasis on modern and contemporary art; and implementing age-specific educational programs to inspire and encourage an appreciation of the arts.
The PMA trustees intend to, concurrent with its Strategic and Tactical Plan (2013 – 2017), completely renovate its existing permanent collection storage vault and to build a second secure collections storage area on the second floor. Additionally, the PMA must “seal” its roof and construct two major, large downspouts. Finally, HVAC work in the facility will upgrade the all important humidity controls in the old jail home to PMA. The acceptance of art from donors and purchasing collections, as money in their Bluebook purchasing program becomes available, are key goals. Last year (2014) two local residents gave their first gift to the PMA, $100,000, to purchase the bronze of Abraham Lincoln. To continue to accept gifts of this magnitude is a clear PMA objective. These objects must be stored in a temperature and humidity controlled, secure environment. IMPACT funds will also be used to install storage equipment in both collection vaults for flat and three-dimensional objects and purchase new software to catalog each piece of art with pictures and descriptions. The storage equipment has a minimum life of 25 years; the roof sealant will extend the life of the current roof by a minimum of 15 years and the HVAC equipment has an estimated life of 15 to 25 years
The PMA plans to double the collection storage capability while upgrading defenses against heat, water, condensation, and insects. By enlarging and protecting its vault space, the PMA ensures its target audience that objects and paintings can be stored and retrieved easily and safely, and be environmentally protected. The new software program will make it easier to find artwork in the newly designed storage vaults. A child or parent will easily understand the new cataloging system with descriptions of each painting or object and its importance and relevance to a diverse population in the two counties. The descriptions will be available for viewing online, facilitating and increasing the number of pieces of artwork loaned to other museums. During the last accreditation inspection, performed by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), it was noted that to maintain accreditation, PMA would need to upgrade its HVAC system and storage to ensure art would be stored at appropriate temperature and humidity levels to ensure longevity of the artwork. PMA has been warned that if the changes to these systems are not made, they will lose accreditation. The accreditation process occurs every 10 years and PMA’s next accreditation process will begin June 2016. The AAM will review in September 2018, and a final accreditation decision will be made by AAM in December 2019.