Day Six. Condition, Pesky Pests and Preventive Conservation

We are now in full flow here at the camp! The day’s activities started with a fantastic lecture from Helen where we looked at cataloguing museum objects. There were lots of great questions from the participants and everyone seemed to learn so much (even before the second macchiato of the day!).

Next up we had some objects from the museum here at the Mitrovica museum laid out and it was time to learn about condition. “Surface corrosion”, “Accretions”, “Structural damage”- these were all words we learnt as we got our heads around describing the condition of various objects. We got to get up close to some amazing swords, shoes, leather and wooden objects. The group was quick on the uptake and after 3 hours were starting to get a real grasp of the various things to look out for when assessing condition and what it might mean for storage, loan, display and conservation.

Talking about condition of this hide bag

Talking about condition of this hide bag

Even the Director joined us for  a session

Even the Director joined us for  a session

The afternoon was dedicated to preventive conservation. Sophie gave a lecture on the common conservation issues in museums which set up the ideas of light, humidity, temperature and pests in museums (among the other “Agents of Deterioration”!) We then put that knowledge into action with the rest of the afternoon spent up and about practical preventive conservation activities.

There was A LOT of fun had using the whirling hygrometer to figure out the relative humidity in various places in the museums. It certainly tested everyone’s biceps, and then tested our understanding of the potential problems of high humidity and what we could do to reduce those issues.

Giving the whirling hygrometer a whirl!

Giving the whirling hygrometer a whirl!

Light was another thing we covered, with participants having a go at reading the lux levels in various places in the gallery spaces and thinking about how light can damage objects and what we can do to reduce light damage.

We also looked at pests, with a couple of creepy crawley examples under the microscope and some samples of the sorts of damage they can cause to collections. Having recognised the culprits, we went on to monitoring pests- we looked at integrated pest management, got a bit sticky setting up pest traps in the gallery and talked about our really pest-vulnerable objects.

Having a go at identifying museum pests

Having a go at identifying museum pests

All in all it was a great day. All the students were really excited and told us they had a great time- their favorite day so far. But there is much more to come…