Packing and Crating

Materials for constructing a basic crate shell may include:

  • exterior-grade AC fir plywood
  • heat-treated solid pine or poplar battens
  • pine, fir, or plastic skids
  • carpenter’s glue or polyvinyl acetate (PVA white glue)
  • common round wire nails
  • screw shank nails
  • bugle-head drywall screws
  • washer-head drive screws
  • spun-bonded polyethylene olefin fibers (Tyvek®)
  • aluminized polyethylene and nylon barrier film (Marvelseal®)

Museums use carefully constructed crates to move fragile, valuable works of art. Exhibitions such as Nature’s Nation sometimes appear in multiple venues around the country or around the globe, compounding the need to ensure the safe transportation of exhibition objects.

Custom crates, built from a range of materials—including plywood, plastic cushioning, and metals—can take up a significant amount of space, posing challenges for reuse and storage. Of the approximately one hundred loaned objects in the showing of Nature’s Nation at the Princeton University Art Museum, nearly 90 percent were transported in custom-made crates. Each was produced using an array of materials, all of which have their own environmental histories and impacts.

Exterior view of crates used to transport objects.