Friday, 9 December 2016




In the spirit of the holidays, Conservation Santa has decided to pay a visit to the Musings blog! He was very concerned that there are some naughty people out there, ignoring some basic conservation protocols. But don’t worry, he’s very understanding and just wants everyone to be safe and to protect the objects! So he's offered to share his criteria with us on what are some good and not-so-good conservation practices in museum spaces.

Conservation Santa, sporting protective glovewear… and shocked at what he sees!

Conservation Naughty List Conservation Nice List
• Touching artifacts with bare hands. • Wearing protective gloves. Cotton gloves are more common and work well for objects of more durable materials
(rock, ceramic, but it DOES get slippery), but nitrile gloves work best for items that may snag on cotton, such as organic materials like wood, cord, or textiles.
• NOTE: cotton gloves, despite washes, may not actually be clean. Be cautious about reusing them.
• Improper preparation and movement of objects. • Clear spaces and paths before moving objects.
• Never lift by protruding parts like handles or rims;
always pick up by the bottom to support the weight. Use two or more people if necessary.
• Letting small items roll around in transport. • Place small items in a protected tray before transport
• Using improper storage materials, such as regular cardboard boxes, regular tissue paper, etc. These items can
increase the speed of degradation, particularly if your object is protein-based like leather.
• Use archival quality storage materials to preserve the objects (especially if they are organic)
• Archival quality cardboard boxes
• Archival quality tissue
• Archival quality foam (for support and shelving)
• Archive quality pens (for number writing)
• Artifact photography: Improper stage set (no protective materials like cloth, supports, etc.) and unnecessary use of flash. • Artifact photography: prepare stage with proper materials and consider lighting and flash, particularly with artwork.
• Not filling out condition reports when needed! • Condition reports must be filled out with objects arrive in the museum, when status is updated,
and when items are loaned out of the museum or into the museum. This keeps track of the condition of the artifact and allows staff to know when damage has occurred.
• NOTE: Google for condition report templates if you are unsure what criteria to use!
• Improper monitoring of air quality, relative humidity, and temperature, or not keeping track of it at all!
• Otherwise can cause moulding, flaking, breaking,
• It is important to the life of an object that environmental monitoring is performed regularly.
• Invest in air conditioners, humidifiers, air purifiers, and hygrothermographs for accurate room-specific readings. Try to put one of
each in rooms that house collections and galleries.
• Not having a pest control procedure and letting them run wild in your museum!
• This includes mould.
• Create a pest control procedure so all staff know what to do to preemptively stop pests or what to do if pests are sighted.
• Prevalent pests are silverfish, moths, beetles, and mould.
• Templates can be found on Google but important things to consider are: how and when to inspect rooms,
what to look for on each possible pest, insect control strategy (i.e.: keeping food out of the backrooms) and who to contact if pests are sighted.
• NOTE: be aware of incoming collections and where they are coming from/their storage. If not sure, un-box items off-site and monitor before allowing into the museum.
• Dangerous storage rooms: rooms with heating or drainage pipes, storage where boxes of artifacts are on the ground
and not raised up, storage rooms where temperature and humidity fluctuate.
• Find storage rooms that are clear of pipes (if possible); make sure there are shelves that raise boxes up off of the ground; make sure to monitor temperature and humidity (as above); lock the space; no eating or drinking.

Does your museum land on the naughty list or the nice list? Make sure to update your conservation procedures if you are unsure (or sure you’re on the naughty list)!


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