Conservation (plan) Reports
Link to CAN 'Conservation and Preservation Assessment Plans - Best Practice Model
Link to Heritage Council of Western Australia, 'Conservation Plans: A Standard Brief for Consultants' (Oct 2002)
Link to MGNSW – ‘Condition Reports’
Preventive Conservation Overview
Museums have an obligation to care for their collections in a way which will ensure that they remain in the best possible condition, for as long as possible. In order to do this museums must ensure that collections are stored, displayed and transported in secure conditions where the risk of damage and deterioration is minimal at all times.
A variety of small easily accomplished steps can be taken to make any store area better suited to housing museum objects more safely. Several things can affect conditions and deterioration of objects. Many of these can be corrected or avoided with small expenditure, a little work and some planning.
Environmental and Biological Factors
There are several forms of biological and environmental hazards that will cause deterioration to many museum objects. In general, adequate care, cleaning and regular monitoring will form a good basis on which to maintain sound storage and display conditions.
Stopping Mould Growth
Mould is one of the most difficult agents of decay to eliminate once it has a hold of textiles. Because it is so destructive, fairly drastic measures are sometimes used to deal with it.
Storage - General Guidelines
Central to all collection care is the provision of adequate, clean storage to house objects that are not on display. There are a number of key factors to be considered.
Storage - Planning Space and Fittings
One of the most common oversights in museums is not allowing for adequate storage. Good storage for a museum’s collection is one of the key principles of preventive conservation.
Storage - Principles
Ease of access, adequate space, use of appropriate materials and orientation all have a major effect on the quality of the storage conditions and their maintenance costs.
Storage - Furniture
Storage areas are a crucial part of the preservation strategy of a museum. There are some important considerations when deciding on storage furniture.
Cultural Object Stores
A report is now available detailing a project carried out to ascertain current cultural object stores requirements. The report is co-authored by Greg Wallace and Kim Akerman and is entitled For now and forever: An analysis of current and emerging needs for Aboriginal cultural stores and repositories in Western Australia. To link to this report click here.
Preventive Conservation - Methodology
Using appropriate techniques and materials for packing will both protect the item whilst being handled and also ensure that the object will be safe whether it is being stored or moved.
Handling or moving of artefacts
Items in a collection have special needs when it comes to being handled. Objects may be fragile, old, decayed or worn and should only be handled by trained people who understand that object’s specific needs. As most damage to museum collections comes about from poor handling, handling should always be kept to a minimum.
Framing is primarily a means of protecting an item that is to be displayed, in a way that brings out the best in the item aesthetically. You can extend the life of the item you wish to frame and enhance the protection it receives by following a few simple guidelines.
Encapsulation is the process of enclosing a fragile paper item between two sheets of archival quality polyester film and then sealing to provide protection from handling and ease of viewing. Not all items will benefit from encapsulation so it is necessary to make a careful assessment before proceeding.
Preventive Conservation - Specific Collection Types
Specific Collection Types
Archives - refer Museums Australia, Museum Methods: A Practical Manual for Managing Small Museums, section 3.10 'Managing Museum Archives'
Art - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 1, p109
Firearms - refer WA Museum 'Conservation and Care of Collections' (Gilroy & Godfrey eds) pp 149-150
Glass and Ceramics etc – WA Museum 'Conservation and Care of Collections' (Gilroy & Godfrey eds) pp 87-101
Image Collection ( Photographs) - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 1, pp 67-107
Indigenous/Aboriginal/ethnographic - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 59-80
Leather - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 29-46; WA Museum 'Conservation and Care of Collections' (Gilroy & Godfrey eds) pp 23-32
Metals - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 81-111
Military - reference texts available through: Australian War Memorial, Canberra, http://www.awm.gov.au
Oral History - informative publications available - Oral History Assn of Australia, http://www.ohaa.net.au/publications.htm
Outdoor Collections - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 113-135
Paper and books –refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 1 pp 1-66
Rubber and Plastics - WA Museum 'Conservation and Care of Collections' (Gilroy & Godfrey eds) pp 127-130
Textiles and Costume - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 1-27
Time Capsules - WA Museum 'Conservation and Care of Collections' (Gilroy & Godfrey eds) pp 156-158
Wood - refer reCollections, Caring for Cultural Material 2, pp 47
Link to reCollections online
Guide to Acquisition and Accessioning Procedures
There is a procedure to follow when items are offered or considered for the museum’s collection. Accessioning is the formal process of accepting items into the collection.
Acquisition and Accessioning Flowchart
A step by step flowchart indicating the process by which acquisition and accessioning occurs.
Assessing the significance of an object is a fundamental requirement when considering it for inclusion into the collection. Significance explains the objects’ meaning for the museum.
Numbering Collection Items
During the accession process, it is important to mark each object with a unique identification number (accession number aka registration number), which will link that object to the museum’s documentation. Each type of object needs a different approach, depending on the materials from which the object is made.
Object Data Sheet
Recording information on an object data sheet is a process of documenting and managing objects in the museum and creates a permanent record of all the objects in the collection.
Computers and IT
Deaccessioning and Disposal
Deaccessioning is the process by which objects in the museum’s collection are removed from the collection and are made ready for disposal. There are legal and ethical considerations in disposing of objects and the process must be clearly followed and traceable.
Short-term loans from individuals and other institutions may be required for temporary exhibitions. Appropriate preservation and security conditions and loans documentation procedures will be essential to facilitate these exchanges. The successful administration of loans relies on adherence to guidelines provided in the museum’s interpretation and collection policies.
Business Plans can be used for a specific purpose, such as applying for sponsorship or a grant. A Business Plan outlines what you want the sponsorship or funding for, where it fits in with the overall operation of the organisation and how the project will be managed.
A museum’s collection policy is central to its operations and will provide the core from which the other policies will be developed.
A conservation policy will identify priorities for allocating resources to two types of conservation strategies: interventive conservation and preventive conservation and will include guidelines for the very different requirements for display and storage of collections.
Cultural Policy and Planning
Cultural planning is used when planning for communities and considers the broader cultural life of a community when managing arts and cultural resources in local government areas. It can be considered in facility planning and design for museums.
An education policy provides a framework for action to address the provision of education services for museum users. The policy should reflect the overarching concerns and priorities of the museum, set out the intent of the organisation and identify priorities.
Buildings and Facilities
Built Heritage Conservation
Link to Australian Heritage Commission “Moved Buildings for Museums: not an easy solution”
Link to reCollections, Managing Collections, Budgeting
References and Links
A select list of references and further reading
Links and websites
AICCM (Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials) www.aiccm.org.au
Collections Australia Network www.collectionsaustralia.net.au
Heritage Council of Western Australia www.heritage.wa.gov.au
Museums and Galleries NSW www.mgnsw.org.au
Museum and Gallery Services, Queensland www.magsq.com.au
Museums Australia www.museumsaustralia.org.au
American Institute for Conservation - http://aic.stanford.edu/
Conservation OnLine - http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/
Canadian Heritage Info network CHIN - http://www.chin.gc.ca/
Canadian Institute of Conservation - http://www.preservation.gc.ca/index_e.asp
Getty Conservation Institute - http://www.getty.edu/conservation/
National Archives of Australia - http://www.naa.gov.au
Suppliers and Consultants
Suppliers and Consultants
Link to Heritage Council of Western Australia, Directory of Consultants
Link to AICCM, Members in Private Practice
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