Conservation - Preventive Care
Prevention is the Best Cure
We generally have to make some compromise between protecting the objects from potentially harmful effects, and making them accessible so that you can see, and sometimes even touch and handle them. Even though some damage may be reversible, objects rarely look as good when they have had to be repaired.
It is generally much easier (and cheaper) to prevent damage than to have to make repairs, and so we put our greatest effort into caring for the objects, and preventing them from being harmed. This means we have to not only understand about the materials that the objects are made of, and the kind of damage that can occur, but use this information to prevent that damage in the first place.
Here are some of the measures that we take to prevent damage to our collections:
- careful handling, packing and storing to prevent breakage
- controlling the temperature and humidity of our store, exhibition spaces and display cases
- controlling the amount of light in the museum
- observing good standards of housekeeping and monitoring for insects and other pests
- using inert storage materials which will not react with the objects themselves
- making photographic records of objects, to compare with the object at a future date
- restricting the amount of time that vulnerable objects are on display
- handling delicate items with gloves on
If you are interested in learning more about museum science, ask your school if it is possible to arrange a visit from the museum staff.