RE-ORG project overview: Maison de Mère d’Youville
The Grey Nuns of Montréal’s department of archives and collections participated in the RE-ORG: Canada (Quebec) training program in 2016–17. Their collection of 5000 objects related to social heritage was stored in 250 m² in the Maison de Mère d'Youville in Montreal. The RE-ORG project involved 500 of these objects, which were in three different rooms of the house.
Project leads: Mylène Laurendeau and Brigitte Campeau
Main storage challenges
- The objects were scattered throughout different parts of the house, which made controlling and inspecting the collection difficult (Figures 1–4).
- The layout of the space was inadequate, which made it difficult to find objects and to achieve the goal of showcasing the Grey Nuns’ heritage.
- Following the RE-ORG project, the rooms used to house the permanent exhibit were to be demolished. As a result, new space had to be created for the storage of all these objects.
Within a year, the Maison de Mère d’Youville was able to make the following storage improvements:
- They brought together the collection objects that were scattered throughout several rooms. They also brought into the storage space objects that had been kept elsewhere and created a space, using scaled plans, for items from the permanent exhibit that had to go back into storage (Figures 5–7).
- They moved and grouped existing furniture together to maximize space.
- They hired professionals to move the drawer cabinets; the goal was to bring the different units together to optimize storage space (Figure 8).
- They acquired three large metal shelves to store and group together most furniture items in the collection (Figure 9). They also built three wooden storage units for paintings and mock-ups (Figure 10).
- They built a platform on wheels to avoid having to store a particularly fragile object directly on the floor.
The project took 85 days to complete with the help of no more than 2 team members during phases 1 to 3 and 25 team members during phase 4 (Table 1).
|RE-ORG phase||Number of days to complete||Number of team members|
|1. Getting started||20||2|
|2. Storage condition report||5||2|
|3. Storage action plan||10||2|
|4. Storage reorganization implementation||50||25|
The RE-ORG project cost $24,378. More than half of this amount was allocated to staff time and external contracted services (Table 2). Less than a third of the budget was spent on tools and storage furniture. The Maison de Mère d’Youville was also successful in securing a $9,920 grant from the Museums Assistance Program for the project.
|Budget item||Amount (CAN$)|
|Tools, supplies and materials||5,930|
|External services (such as contractors)||750|
|Total project cost||24,378|
Based on the RE-ORG Self-evaluation Tool for Collections in Storage (PDF version), the Maison de Mère d’Youville made improvements in all four of the RE-ORG components: “management,” “building and space,” “collection” and “furniture and small equipment.”
The results in Table 3 show that equal improvements (15%) were made in the “building and space,” “collection” and “furniture and small equipment” components (Figure 11).
|RE-ORG component||Score (before)||Score (after)|
|Management (maximum of 42 points)||22||23|
|Building and space (maximum of 54 points)||31||39|
|Collection (maximum of 51 points)||38||46|
|Furniture and small equipment (maximum of 33 points)||22||27|
© Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute. CCI 132794-0032
Figure 11. Graph illustrating the percentage of improvement to the scores for the RE-ORG self-evaluation tool, calculated by comparing scores before and after the storage reorganization project.
Description of Figure 11
|RE-ORG component||Percentage of improvement|
|Building and space||15%|
|Furniture and small equipment||15%|
Based on the experience of the Maison de Mère d’Youville, the following factors should be considered in future RE-ORG projects:
- Contact those responsible for museology training programs in the area to see if their students can lend a hand. We would like to mention our very productive partnership with the students in the museum techniques program at Montmorency College in Laval. As part of a course on setting up storage spaces, 22 students came to help out with our reorganization project.
- Video of Mylène Laurendeau and Brigitte Campeau’s presentation at the 2017 RE-ORG: Canada (Quebec) one-day conference, RE-ORG : Canada (Québec) – Rapport sur l’état des réserves : Maison de Mère d’Youville(Sœurs de la charité de Montréal « Sœurs Grises ») (in French only).
- ICCROM web page describing the RE-ORG method.
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