California Academy of Sciences

Enduring storage for extensive collections

Time-tested tradition, new applications

For more than 45 years, Spacesaver has been helping businesses, libraries, and other institutions save space while keeping materials organized and protected. Now Spacesaver’s innovative technology is being used by indoor growers in the cannabis cultivation industry. One example of a recent installation is this cannabis grow facility located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Staff are using Spacesaver’s ActivRAC® Mobilized Storage System to gain signifcantly higher yields in their existing rooms, without having to build expensive additions or construct a new facility.

cannabis storage
cannabis grow shelving

THE PROBLEM: Expensive space

Space is at a premium in the Bay Area, which is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S. Even warehouse space in industrial areas is expensive. Beyond real estate costs, cannabis growers need to control the temperature and humidity throughout the grow areas. The larger the facility, the greater the expense.With these concerns in mind, the owners of this facility were determined to make every square inch count. Although it might seem appealing to pack as many plants as possible into the f owering rooms, the owners knew that wasn’t a viable option. That’s because crowded plants inhibit air movement, which can result in the growth of mold, mildew, and other pests. Also, all the plants’ leaves need access to light for maximum productivity, and this is impossible to achieve when the leaves of some plants are shading others. They also knew that the plants need to be carefully tended, and employees would need to be able to reach every part of every plant. They wanted tables to be around four feet wide to allow staff to comfortably reach the plants without straining, and the aisles between the tables needed to be wide enough to accommodate staff and their bins and tools.


cannabis shelving


Cabinets and shelving on rails provide compact storage for a wide variety of specimens in the Academy’s invertebrate collection, from tiny shells to large sea sponges. When specimen preservation requires an absence of dust and moisture, cabinet doors are fitted with gaskets to create an airtight seal. As with all collections storage throughout the museum, an enduring paint finish was of utmost importance on all shelving, drawers, and cabinetry; staff required paint that would not scuff or chip despite decades of frequent use.

Special requirements for specimens in liquid

Spacesaver engineers worked with Cal Academy staff to design compact mobile storage solutions to accommodate the special challenges posed by glass jars and large steel trunks containing sharks, reptiles, birds, and other specimens preserved in liquid. Special care must be taken when storing such specimens, particularly in seismically active areas like San Francisco. The shelves in these four-post shelving units are perforated to allow liquid from accidental spills to flow through the shelving and onto the floor, where the liquid is drained out of the room. Bin fronts, or “earthquake bars,” finish the front edges of the open upper shelves to prevent spillage or breakage in the event of an earthquake, and partial doors enclose lower shelves. The large stainless steel trunks were acquired from a third party and they are housed on wide-span shelving mounted on carriages with half-height panels and mechanical-assist controls.

Specimen collections on mechanical assist mobile shelving system at California Academy of Sciences Building
Rare book storage on shelves in cabinet California Academy of Sciences

Rare Books

The Academy Library was founded in 1853, simultaneously with the Academy itself. Devoted to natural history and the natural sciences, the library’s collections include a variety of media including maps, photographs, journals, and books. The museum’s rare books collection is stored in Delta Designs cabinets mounted on Spacesaver carriages and rails. The cabinets feature adjustable shelving, locking doors, and airtight gasket seals.


Systems & Space provides ongoing service for this project. As the museum’s storage needs change over time, Spacesaver remains a committed partner in the preservation of the Academy’s renowned and ever-growing collection.

Learn more about our museum storage solutions by visiting our museum market page, or by downloading our Museum Storage Guidebook.