Usually, the museum collections are stored in restricted areas for museum staff and researcher access only. The Open Storage allows the general public access to the museum collection in hopes of raising interest in research and preservation of Taiwan's scientific and industrial history. The construction began in June 2008 and was completed at the end of 2009. In July of 2010, NSTM's Open Storage was officially opened. Since then on-site guided tours have been given and visitors can view NSTM conservators' work in inspecting and conserving collections at a close distance. These activities are also demonstrated to enrich the visiting experiences.
In Open Storage, visitors can see parts of treasures of the museum collections. There are 9 unique ones: the Meridian Instrument which was used to execute the astronomical geodesy, the Meter Prototype which was received by the Taiwan Provincial Institute of Weights and Measures from Japan, the Sunspot Observation Instrument, the Taiwan-made Tompkins Knitting Machine, the Model of Iron Sulfide Factory of Kaohsiung Ammonium Sulphate Company, the full-scale wooden mock-up of the Indigenous Defensive Fighter, the Hand Powered Type Casting Machine, and the Electrotype Casting Machine and Regular Script Matrix New Type 1 of which strokes were simulated from scholars in Ching Dynasty. In addition, visitors can see a series of early printing machines which allow them to have a deeper look at the technical developments of the letterpress and intaglio printings in Taiwan. Sometimes, they can even personally operate these machines. For instance, by using letterpress proofer, visitors can participate in hands-on activities to make their own printed pictures as souvenir. Besides, basic information about museum collections is provided by on-site explanatory panels and labels. Through guided tours, visitors can know more about the history and stories of the collections. For those who want to self-explore the information about collections and Open Storage, computers with touch screens, provided with selections of introductory AV clips, texts and diagrams, can also serve their needs. Demonstrations on conservation are also available; visitors can have brief conversations with museum conservators while they are working in the storage to know what materials and skills they’ve use to preserve the artifacts.
In order to recruit potential volunteers for conservation and preservation works and to improve museum conservators’ knowledge and skills, NSTM also designed and conducted a series of workshops and seminars in the Open Storage to convey the importance of the ethics of conservation and introduce the new technologies and practical skills of the field. Experienced conservators from various fields were invited to give lectures of such topics. Through on-site extensive conservation and preservation lectures, practices and demonstrations, NSTM hopes to make the visitors and participants become more literate in the concepts and technologies of conservation and preservation.
NSTM Open Storage uses the exhibition concept of the “visible collection” which combines the museum's ideas of collection, research, exhibition and education. Through guided tours, explanatory panels and labels, computers with touch screens, hands-on activities, and demonstrations on conservation, Open Storage provides different ways of communicating among museum staff, collections and visitors, hence helping visitors gain an overall understanding of how artifacts are collected, preserved, managed, displayed and researched in a museum. The space conveys not only the importance of preservation of cultural artifacts, but also increases people’s interests in scientific and industrial research history and finally highlights the importance of the existence of museums.
Guided Tours in the Open Storage Using a Letterpress Proofer to Make Your
Workshops in the Open Storage Floor Plan of the Open Storage