It was the first of many, many moving days for the State Historical Society of Missouri, as movers on Tuesday hauled the first truckload of century-old newspapers and microfilm to the new Center for Missouri Studies.
Over the next seven to eight weeks, a steady stream of trucks will follow, will travel less than half-mile from the basement of Ellis Library to the limestone walls of the society’s new facility.
“We’re moving the length of 74 football fields of library and manuscript collections — and that doesn’t include our miles of microfilm records and newspaper titles and 30,000-piece art collection,” Beth Pike, the society’s senior strategic communications associate, said in an email.
The main challenges of the move are the volume and delicacy of the material, Executive Director Gary Kremer said.
“Think about when your parents move out of a house after 10 years, how much stuff they’ve got,” he said. “We’ve got materials that we have accumulated over the course of 104 years.”
Some of those materials are more than 200 years old, he said.
The society is working together with ARTworks of Kansas City and Corrigan Moving Systems — whose main headquarters is in Farmington Hills, Michigan — to ensure the protection of the collection during transport. Corrigan also hired Carney-McNicholas from Youngstown, Ohio, to help with the move.
Curator Joan Stack said the most daunting pieces to move will be the artworks of George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton.
“We always say they are priceless, but their value is very, very high,” she said. “They are artworks that any museum in the nation might want to have.”
Stack said the most dangerous time for artwork is when it is on the road.
“Luckily (our artwork) won’t be on any high-speed highways,” she said. “The chances of an accident are pretty low, so that’s reassuring.”
The new 76,000-square-foot facility is more than double the size of the original building and will house several classrooms, an auditorium, a research center and more.
With towering ceilings, movable gallery walls and natural lighting, “it will look like a museum space,” Stack said. “We’ll be able to do justice to having these works that are worthy of the best museums in the country.”
The Center for Missouri Studies will hold its grand opening Aug. 10.