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Preserving Artifacts: Museum Storage Tips and Tricks

Preserving Artifacts: Museum Storage Tips and Tricks
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Artifacts hold importance for museums and cultural institutions. These precious objects carry the weight of our history, narrating the stories of civilizations while connecting us to our heritage. To ensure their longevity and historical significance, adopting storage techniques becomes crucial. In this blog post, we will delve into some suggestions and strategies for storing artifacts within museums.

1. Climate Control; Maintaining Optimal Conditions

Maintaining a climate stands as one of the crucial factors in artifact preservation. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can lead to damage to objects. It is essential for museums to establish areas where temperature and humidity can be closely monitored and regulated.

To cater to artifact categories, experts or preservation guidelines should be consulted, as objects may have varied requirements. However, as a benchmark, maintaining a temperature of 70°F (21°C) alongside a relative humidity level of about 50% is considered optimal for most artifacts.

2. Light Exposure; Minimizing Damage

Light exposure poses another threat that can cause fading and deterioration in artifacts over time. Museums should take measures to limit exposure by utilizing UV filters on windows and avoiding sunlight within storage areas.

To ensure the preservation of materials, like photographs and textiles, it is recommended to store them in containers that block light or wrap them in acid tissue paper. This additional measure helps protect them from damage caused by exposure to light. Additionally, keeping all the boxes in museum storage cabinets will help in preserving the artifacts effectively. 

3. Preventing Deterioration through Acid-Free Packaging

Materials like cardboard and specific types contain acids that can release harmful chemicals, hastening the decay of artifacts. To safeguard artifacts for the term, it is crucial to employ acid packaging materials such as acid-free tissue paper and archival storage boxes.

The use of acid tissue paper to wrap objects provides an extra layer of defense against scratches and dust. Furthermore, archival storage boxes made from lignin-acid-free materials establish an environment for artifacts while minimizing the risk of chemical reactions when museum storage is concerned.

4. Minimizing Damage Through Handling

Handling techniques are essential in preventing accidental damage to artifacts. Museum staff should receive training on handling methods, including wearing gloves and maintaining clean workspaces.

For objects like ceramics or glassware, it is advisable to utilize supports or specialized handling tools to minimize the chances of dropping or mishandling them.

In addition, it is important to avoid contact with artifacts using hands. Over time, the natural oils and salts present on our skin can potentially harm surfaces. 

5. Management of Inventory: Organizing and Tracking

Efficient inventory management is vital for museums to keep track of their collections and ensure the care of artifacts. This involves creating records for each object, including its description, condition, and current location.

Utilizing databases or collections management software can streamline the process of inventory management while providing access to information. It is recommended to assign an identification number to each artifact and carefully track its movement within the museum, including loans and exhibitions.

6. Pest Control: Safeguarding Against Infestations

Infestations caused by pests can result in damage to artifacts made from organic materials such as textiles and wood. Museums should implement pest control measures to protect their collections.

Regular inspections should be conducted in storage areas to identify signs of pests like droppings or damage. If an infestation is detected, immediate action should be taken to eliminate the pests and prevent harm. Maintaining cleanliness through cleaning practices such as vacuuming storage areas can also help deter infestations.

7. Preparedness for Disasters; Planning Ahead

Being well prepared for disasters is pivotal in safeguarding museum collections.

Museums should prioritize having a rounded plan in place to handle disasters, which includes protocols for evacuations, fire prevention, and minimizing water damage.

Storage areas ought to be equipped with fire suppression systems, like sprinklers or fire extinguishers. Regular inspections and maintenance of these systems are essential. Additionally, it is crucial to train a disaster response team who can swiftly take action in case of an emergency.

Conclusion

To sum it up, safeguarding precious artifacts involves a combination of storage techniques and careful handling. Maintaining climate conditions, reducing exposure using acid-free packaging materials, practicing appropriate handling methods, implementing efficient inventory management systems, controlling pests effectively, and preparing for unforeseen disasters are all necessary steps that museums should take. By following these guidelines and strategies diligently we can help protect our heritage so that future generations can appreciate and learn from it.