When the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, needed assistance to store its extraordinary internationally significant collection of preserved plants, it looked no further than CSM Storage Solutions.
June 7th, 2022
The nation’s oldest scientific institution, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust has a collection of over 1 million botanical specimens – including some 800 samples collected by botanists Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific – in its possession.
Far more than just keepsakes, these specimens are accessible to both local and international researchers, for a range of purposes including species identification, conservation, tracking the effects of climate change, and so forth.
To safeguard the National Herbarium of NSW collections and protect it from the dual threats of mould and insects, the collection was recently moved from its previous home in central Sydney to a new purpose built facility. Located at Mount Annan in the city’s south west, the Herbarium which was designed by Architectus and built in conjunction with FDC Construction & Fitout, is set to ensure the well-being of the specimens for decades to come.
Considering the collection’s estimated value of $300 million, it is no surprise that every effort was made to ensure it was as secure as possible in its new home. To ensure this was the case, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust enlisted the assistance of CSM Storage Solutions, an organisation that is well-versed in the protection and storage of scientific and cultural artefacts.
CSM’s Cultural Collections Specialists – a team whose past work has included projects for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Australian Museum, the State Library of New South Wales, and others – came up with a bespoke solution for the National Herbarium of NSW.
This involved five vaults, and within them 900 cabinets, with the capacity to store over one million specimens in taxonomic order. Temperature and humidity controlled, at 16°C and 45-50% relative humidity, the vaults ensure that all their contents are not only safe from pests and mould, but also from fire and water incursion. Considering the climatic extremes the Mount Annan area is subject to during, this last point is important.
Able to handle both fixed and removable shelves, the CSM cabinets incorporate an air circulation system that ensures necessary environmental control and fumigation. The doors and cabinets incorporate a water shield to protect from condensation, as well as possible damage from fire services; and locking systems ensure the security of irreplaceable items.
Now complete, and co-located at Mount Annan with the award-winning Australian PlantBank, the National Herbarium of NSW presents as not just a functional workplace, but a facility that is well-equipped to welcome and engage visitors. With the help of CSM Storage Solutions, it is helping unlock the ways in which we, as a nation, can ensure the survival of plant species and build more resilient ecosystems for future generations.
Photography by Robert Walsh Photography
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