This project investigated the collections storage conditions of the Finnish Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture and their related work processes. The museums are undergoing an extensive transformation with the upcoming New Museum of Architecture and Design project, formally commencing in January 2024. This consists of the merging of the two institutions and the integration of the museums’ collections.

The museums felt the need to better understand the existing storage conditions of their extensive collections in order to plan for future storage requirements. The research group was tasked with investigating the storage situation and documenting work processes, from the point of view of possible improvements, taking into account the changing context.

For this project the team utilized the Design Thinking process to understand the current warehousing situation, to define the current problem scope, and in the ideation and development of solutions. The research used an inductive approach and qualitative research methods, including employee interviews and observations of storage facilities and their use practices. By analyzing the data, themes and object paths were developed that described the current storage situation and work practices.

The analysis uncovered a growing ‘storage debt’, which is caused by unsuitable storage conditions and practices over the years. Storage debt, which has become a common problem in museum collections worldwide, consists of neglected tasks related to the storage, packaging, conservation, documentation and photography of objects. To address the storage debt problem, the first steps were developed for a long-term storage debt reduction process. The next phase of the project consists of planning the change process together with the stakeholders.

The project was conducted in 2023 by Nora Kinnunen and Wilhelmiina Kosonen