The Lapworth Museum of Geology is a major geological museum run by the University of Birmingham. The museum houses over 250,000 specimens as well as geological maps, equipment, models, photographs, zoological specimens and stone axes. It required a storage company with experience of creating open repositories accessible by the public – and could produce solutions incorporating a display element, in order to meet the demands of the museum and its funders.

Innovative visible storage for museum archive

In 2012 the Lapworth Museum was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund development award to plan for expansion and modernisation of its facilities. “The plan involved changing the Lapworth from a very academic university museum into a public access museum located on campus,” said director Jon Clatworthy, who managed the project. “A total redevelopment was required, opening up the collections and not just focussing on the front of house. We wanted to make the stores more accessible too.”

Value for Money

“As part of our research, we went to visit Bruynzeel’s fit-out at Dudley Archives and were very impressed. Being able to see something locally that was high quality helped our decision. I have to say Bruynzeel’s proposal was by far the best. It stood out against the competition,” said Clatworthy. “Price is of course a consideration, and with a Lottery funded project, you have to pick the best budget option. However, I would not advise going for the cheapest option. Bruynzeel offered the best value solution within our budget.”


We are delighted with the improvements in collections care since the redevelopment.

Jon Clatworthy, Director, Lapworth Museum of Geology


Plan for Expansion

Bruynzeel’s design team had a challenge fitting all the collection into the store, especially given the semicircular shape of the building. Mobile shelving was chosen as the best option for efficient use of space. “I would advise any museum to ensure it has spare capacity. I’m surprised we were able to achieve this,” said Clatworthy. “We had such a volume of stuff – the two rooms appeared to be at full capacity. Bruynzeel carried out a thorough investigation and came up with a solution that improves access and gave us the extra expansion space we needed.” 

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Bruynzeel’s design team incorporated some of our old historic cabinets, allowing us to recycle existing components and making it simple to transfer from old to new. The cost-efficient design combined with high quality products has ensured the HaLF and the university are equally delighted with the results.

Jon Clatworthy, Director, Lapworth Museum of Geology


Reuse, Recycle, Improve

The museum was keen to retain the best of the bespoke shelving from its old stores. Bruynzeel was able to fit the existing shelving in new mobile bases, thereby saving money and increasing capacity. “During the move, we simply lifted the cabinets out and slotted them into the new mobile system,” said Clatworthy. “Access has been improved immeasurably. It’s simple for researchers to browse the collection and find what they need.”

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