Few museums or living history sites have conservators on staff. Therefore, the first line of defense to prevent or suspend damage to artifacts are the curators, collections managers, interpreters or any other person on staff who comes into proximity of the collection. Most of the damage caused to works of art is preventable, and good handling and storage techniques can make a big difference in the preservation of a collection.In essence….. Conservation begins with YOU!
1. Could the object be dangerous to you? Sharp edges, contaminants, too heavy. Could you be dangerous to the object? Are there weak spots? Could your hair, clothing, or accessories like belts, jewelry or nametag harm the object?2. Will there be room for the object when you get there? Is everything out of your pathway?3. Where are weak points that could break? Is the surface stable?4. Do you have the right PPE? Use proper lifting techniques to protect your back.
White Gloves:Are appropriate for most handling procedures.Nitrile Gloves:Best for moving objects with slick surfaces like glass or ceramics, or any surface that could catch on or attract cotton fibers such as fragile paper or veneered wood.Keep your gloves clean, and try not to touch anything but the object you are moving. Be careful not to touch your face or hair as you may transfer oils to an object.
In TX we have a saying, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”Location: upstairs, downstairs, wet area, tight hallways, etc.How much space do you have? Do you have room for flat files or do some things have to go in boxes?Can you control the temperature and humidity? Can you move the condensation lines on your AC units?Can your organization afford monitoring equipment?
Can it hold the weight?Can there be snatch and grabs?Will containers fit on shelves? Will people run into shelves?Where are the most valuable items in the collection?
Acid-free = pH higher than 7
Alhfam 2010 handling and storing objects final draft
The Safe Handling and Storage of Objects<br />
Facts About Objects Handling<br />Most damage is preventable.<br />Good handling and storage techniques make a difference in the preservation of a collection.<br />Strong Collections Management Plans discuss staff training, objects handling, and storage.<br />Any staff person who works with the collection should have proper training.<br />
Things to ConsiderBefore Handling an Object<br />Is it safe/necessary to move the object?<br />Where are you going?<br />What is the best way to pick it up?<br />Do you have the right equipment/manpower to move it?<br />?<br />
You<br />Remove jewelry, nametags, etc.<br />Pull back hair and loose clothing.<br />Wash your hands.<br />Wear gloves.<br />Use both hands and move slowly.<br />Update inventory records immediately.<br />
Environment<br />Plan the route.<br />Measure doorways/narrow spaces.<br />Make a place.<br />Move tripping hazards.<br />No plants, food, drinks, or smoking.<br />Use pencils, not pens.<br />
Object<br />It is the only one.<br />Find the center of gravity.<br />Move parts separately.<br />Stabilize loose components.<br />Don’t pick up by handles or rims.<br />Use carts when possible.<br />Don’t push, pull, or drag.<br />
Know Your Collection<br />What types of materials are in your collection?<br />How much of your collection is on display?<br />Does the collection have special needs?<br />Do you have a Collections Management Plan?<br />
Considering Collections<br /><ul><li>The size of the collection
Problem artifacts</li></li></ul><li>Know Your Space<br />Where is your storage area located?<br />How much stuff can you hold?<br />What environmental factors can you control?<br />Can you monitor the environment/security?<br />
Basic Storage Rules<br />Keep all items at least four inches off the floor.<br />Steel shelving lined with polyethylene foam is the most recommended storage system. Use polyethylene foam as shelf liner to protect objects from shelving materials and to watch for any deterioration activity.<br />Try to control agents of deterioration.<br />No plants, food, drinks, or smoking in the storage area.<br />Keep traffic to a minimum.<br />Avoid storing sensitive materials in areas with large fluctuations in the environment.<br />Every item (and it’s container) should have identification and be updated on an inventory list.<br />
Know the Dangers<br />What problems does your collection most encounter? <br />What natural disasters or potential dangers exist in your area i.e. hurricanes, earthquakes, chemical plants?<br />What can you prevent?<br />What can you do to be prepared for a disaster?<br />
Considering Dangers<br />Infrastructure, shelving<br />Security<br />Size of containers<br />Traffic<br />Locations of Valuables<br />Disaster Preparedness Plan<br />
Proper Storage Materials for Every Collection<br />Acid-free boxes, folders, labels, envelopes, paper, and matboard<br />Buffered and unbuffered tissue paper<br />Polyethylene foam, bags, enclosures<br />Cotton or polyester batting<br />Paper or linen tapes, cotton twill tape<br />Washed muslins<br />
Benefits of Packing<br />Provides protection from outside forces.<br />Offers some protection from water and dust.<br />Minimizes climate changes.<br />Homogenizes/maximizes storage space.<br />Groups related items together.<br />
Bottom Line<br />Use common sense and tried-and-true guidelines when deciding how to handle or store an object.<br />Plenty of preventative measures require little or no money to initiate. <br />If you don’t know….. ASK! We all have to do it from time to time.<br />The #1 rule in conservation – Do no harm. Beyond that, do the best you can!<br />