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Connecting to Collections Care: Museum Resource for and From Home

The pandemic has brought several changes to the lives of people. Museums all over the world were forced to shut their doors when the coronavirus struck. During this period, people started relying on digital content and there was a lot of emphasis on the virtual world for engaging the visitors and to keep history alive.

The digital and communication departments of a museum generally hold the responsibility of ensuring the content regarding collections care reaches the public with authenticity adding value to them. There have been many incidences where new content has been added to various departments marking history, but due to the restrictions imposed by covid, this value addition has been difficult to share with people.

To help the communication, members of various other departments are sharing their insights and additions with the audience online using digital channels. Many educators are having prepared videos that are read aloud and revised lesson plans for parents to teach their children who are at home as the schools are closed. On the other hand, live streaming of the animals at the zoo has been initiated by animal trainers and keepers.

With the increase in this digital era, one can gather all relevant information about connecting to collections care using social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube videos. Apart from this, various organizations also stream live videos that can be watched sitting at home.

There are also people whose love for history and information has made them experts while sitting at home. The resources collected by them go beyond artifacts and you can find resources in the form of books, live stream videos, and advice and insights by these experts.

Below is a random list of resources for and from home.

Museums

These are some of the museums across the world that offer online exhibits and tours.

American Museum of Natural History

Is the world’s known scientific and cultural institutes known for their scientific collections and exhibitions serving as a guide to presenting the world’s different cultures to the planet as a whole? Post pandemic, the scientists of the museum have giving virtual tours and field trips to the audience across the world live along with guided field tours exploring the behind the scenes. You can take quizzes as well.

British Museum, London

This British museum is home to many artifacts on its premises. While on a virtual tour of this museum, you can also get a glimpse of the Egyptian mummies as well as the ancient Rosetta Stone.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Has a large collection of 500 drawings, more than 200 paintings, and over 750 personal letters of the famous tragic painter Vincent van Gogh. His works have been well preserved in this museum and all his fans can get the opportunity of virtually seeing all his works under one roof.

MASP, Sao Paulo

The Museum De Arte de Sao Paulo is the first modern museum in Brazil that works on a non-profit basis. The placing of artworks is done in such a way that they appear to be hanging in mid-air. Going on a virtual tour will help you to get the real experience of these works of art.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin

The Pergamon Museum in Berlin is one of the largest museums in Germany. The museum houses several artifacts which are ancient and rare such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Sitting across the world, you can still take a virtual tour of this museum and its artifacts.

Books

Below is a list of books by Barbara Appelbaum that will help you read about various artifacts, museums, and curators including how to professionally start your own collection if you want to.

Preserve, Protect, and Defend: A Practical Guide to the Care of Collections

This book provides a lot of information about the many aspects of a museum and the collections and artifacts housed in it. Ways to maintain these collections and also members associated. This book is a great read for relevant information for curators, art historians, museum educators along all the professionals associated with the museum.

Conservation Treatment Methodology 

This book is a must-read for any collection care professional or conservator. One can find a detailed approach towards making conservation treatment. It will help conservators to take the right decision and for the treatment of properties of all cultures irrespective of material or type.

Guide to Environmental Protection of Collections

This book speaks all about the various methods of caring for historical artifacts, art collections, natural history collections, or any other cultural material. Any individual who owns some kind of collection but doesn’t have any technical knowledge about the maintenance of collections will find the book very useful.

Hope this article brings out the historian in you and gives you all the relevant information about collections care virtually.

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Colllections Care

Connecting to Collections Care – Protection from Hazardous Materials

The significance of collections care is almost critical as preservation of cultural property is among the most effective means of protecting and conserving antiques and precious collections. This is why connecting to collection care is critical. Fortunately, this domain sees a growing number of collections care professionals and conservators with strong museology backgrounds, interests, and responsibilities who have worked on several projects that eventually support the ethical practice of collections care.

What is Connecting to Collections Care?

Among the major pillars of museology and collection management and perseveration of collection, collection care deems the most crucial as it involves caring for the collection through careful strategies and values. Effective care of collections includes-

  • Strategic Mitigation

Generally, according to regular norms like storage in a dry, cool, dark place is followed but not entirely relied upon. Regardless of how sensible it sounds; the plan is to systematically mitigate the conceivable risks concerning the costs and usefulness of collections that get tarnished over time.

  • Systematic Values

The purpose of following these strategic values is to solely protect its solid-state but also other values that contribute to the entire purpose of preserving a collection.

  • Consider all risks

The idea is to mitigate all risks and not focus on the received wisdom of concentrating on few tell-tale risks. Everything should be deemed suspicious and all risks should be considered a priority as anything can inadvertently cause harm to the collection. It begins with prioritizing physical risks such as wear and tear, pests, breakage, theft, flood fire, misplacement, and distortion. Following with damage-inducing agents such as light, temperature, relative humidity, and contaminants, etc.

The entire team of professional collectors, conservators, curators, facility managers, archivists, architects, designers, collection managers, exhibit designers, maintenance staff, and security staff give a new meaning to connecting to collections care through effective preservation.

According to AIC Health and Safety Network, Unlike industrial workers who are likely to encounter higher doses of potentially hazardous materials resulting in acute exposure, museum workers are more likely to be exposed to low-level doses of heavy metals [and other toxins] over an extended period, resulting in chronic health problems.

This is why safety against hazardous materials for museum works is no less than combat. Museum workers are constantly around these toxic materials for a long period so it becomes all the more critical that such objects are encountered and how the team can limit the exposure to such hazards.

Hazardous Materials to Collection Care

As crucial preservation is to the collections, hazardous materials and risks are not highlighted as evidently as they should. Therefore, it is important to how to approach it and what measures should be taken to protect the actions taken towards preservation.

Everyday routine has the team engaged in daily museum tasks and adds to the exposure to hazardous materials. It includes tasks such as exhibition preparation, Object photography, Complying with strategic measures, and storage reorganizations. Each of these tasks has the member/employee dealing with hazardous elements such as naphthalene, DDT, asbestos, and Arsenic mercury and lead in rather close proximity.

What makes an element hazardous?

Although anything with a danger sign or related symbol will have you alerted there are roughly three categories-

  • Chemical hazards- these are toxic or poisonous toxins that can have short-term or acute effects on the body. These could also be carcinogens that could cause accumulate and cause damage for a longer time and have a chronic effect. In collection care, chemical hazards would be pesticides, formaldehyde heavy metals that appear in a wide variety of forms, and ethnobotanical toxins. 
  • Physical hazards- these might not be toxic but dangerous that can harm the body physically. These include flammable or explosive agents such as cellulose nitrate and pressurized objects that might explode (radioactive materials) and cause physical damage. Also, objects with sharp edges are dangerous as well. Asbestos can fall under this category as its accumulation causes physical trauma inside the lungs.
  • Biological hazards- include infectious substances through organic materials or creatures. For instance, hantavirus which is spread by mice is dreaded in collection care. It includes other pathogens, molds, bird droppings, etc.

Connecting to Collections Care– Evaluation & Preservation

There are certain steps that help in locating and identifying the potential hazards in the collection. This is really important as it can prevent the potential dangers in the museum.

  • Research

The best and the most ideal way to reduce exposure to hazardous materials would be to research to build familiarity with toxins from a collection care standpoint. This includes valuable literature and information available in several institutions to identify and manage. There are a lot of toxicological data available on various substances so that you exactly how dangerous an element is and gets. Research helps you identify certain pharmaceuticals and related terminologies easily that would otherwise be slightly challenging.

  • Collection Exploration

Evaluation is incomplete without surveying the object records and storage. This way you as a curator, collector, or carer can easily detect the historical notations of toxic or poison in the collections. This includes intrinsically toxic objects or collections treated with pesticides. Surveying helps in making oneself familiar with the collections as it later becomes easy to detect and identify hazards.

  • Analytical Testing

There are a lot of toxins that do not get detected by the naked eye and can be identified through analytical testing. The two most useful techniques are X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). These non-invasive to minimally invasive techniques can be used for detecting toxic elements like heavy metals, organic pesticides, and ethnobotanical toxins.

Connecting to Collections care is possible by preventing hazardous elements from overpowering the environment of the museum or any space for that matter; enabling safe and healthy space for the entire team.

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Colllections Care

Expert Collections Care Tips To Store Your Artwork

Your guests love the beautiful art on the wall of your home. You do too, however, you know there will be certain art pieces that will have your attention which would eventually replace the original. Regardless of whether you are a budding collector or a gallery enthusiast, art maintenance is the key to keep the art in its valuable, pristine condition. However, there could be other antiques, paintings, sculptures, sketches, and other collectibles that cannot be simply accumulated in your home. This implies especially if one has a small living space. Either way, with time, you are going to consider collecting other artworks which would call for storing them. Otherwise, they will get damaged.

Special Collections Care Tips :

What are the Right Places for Storing Art?

There is no one ideal place to store art. Different artworks require different preparations, settings, and environments. The first step would be to choose the right premises artwork storage. Yes, any room can be converted into a storeroom but you will have to make arrangements to make it suitable for your artwork to remain in its original condition.
The most essential factor that plays a pivotal role in art storage is to prepare a room that is absolutely isolated from the outside world. The room should be closed at all times and there should be zero human traffic and natural interferences like weather, sounds, temperature changes, structural damages, and other natural factors like sunlight, etc.
One can also turn a walk-in closet or an office into an art storage space but then again you must be careful that the room is not attached or adjacent to a space that is supposedly too “active”. You are highly mistaken if these suggestions make you think of attics or basements because they are not properly insulated or equipped with climate control technology.
Another factor that you must consider while converting a room into an art storage room is to check for open air vents and broken windows. The first thing possibly that you must consider is to hire a handyman or consult an art specialist to inspect your potential artwork storage facility. A mild stench or speck of dust are indications of mold which wouldn’t work in your favor in the long run. Get the room treated before using it.

What are the Ideal Conditions for Art Storage?

Artworks and antiques have stood the test of time and have survived eras and years and remained unfazed by external conditions even though they were never kept in climate-controlled rooms, to begin with. Technically they have all existed or pre-existed in times with no air conditioning or proper ventilation so why are we intrigued by storage solutions?
The answer is simple, times have changed and evolved. The way of the world is not similar to what it was fifteen years ago. Natural Environmental conditions have altered for the worse and would reflect on precious antiques. It is all the more applicable to modern art. For instance, one has to work with caution when it comes to wax-based paints as they could start dripping all over your furniture if there is a slight change in thermostat controls.

Temperature

The ideal temperature to store artwork ranges from 70 to 75°F. This includes most art pieces and antiques. Fluctuating or extreme temperatures would only lead to cracks, chips, and mold growth. If you cannot arrange a room with a steady temperature you must go for climate-controlled storage units.

Light

No, this is not about light fixtures and ceiling lights. It’s the harmful and invisible radiation of UV rays that could damage the art. Regardless of the material or object, you must keep all your antiques and collectibles away from direct sunlight. If there happens to be a window in the room, make sure to use UV filtering agents that would minimize UV exposure. Instead of using glass as picture frames, Acrylite or Plexiglas can be used to filter UV radiation.

Humidity

An artwork is composed of various materials and there are several different types of agents in the air that could have them respond accordingly. However, the average recommended humidity for art storage ranges from 40-50%. All in all, the aim should be to stabilize humidity without fail. Installing a smart thermostat, sensor, or home assistant would keep the humidity constant and alert you, in case of any fluctuation.

What Are the Ground Rules for Artwork Storage?

· Always wear cotton gloves or latex ones when handling artwork.· Use Ph neutral slip-sheets to separate paper artwork while stacking them.· Fresh oil paintings must not be stored immediately. They could take more than a year to dry. · Framed and stretched artwork must be stacked on racks with gaps for air to flow freely. In this case, a little sunlight sometimes would avert the possibilities of mold and fungus development. · Wooden drawers are not recommended to store artwork since wood itself is vulnerable to insects and other pests. · Always use a microfibre cloth to gently clean the artwork occasionally. This will enable the extension of its lifespan. · Examine the artwork regularly for signs of pests and infestation.
A word to the wise, despite following all the tips and precautions, there is always room for damage due to unexpected problems. Therefore, it is important to keep a check on museum Art collections care tips regularly despite creating favorable and probably the best conditions for your art.

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Art Conservation, Conservation of Art

Why Is Conservation of Art Important?

Conservation of art is an attempt to preserve and repair paintings, architecture, drawings, prints, objects such as glassware, furniture, textiles, metal, ceramics, and sculptures which may have been affected or damaged due to negligence, natural effects such as timely decay and use by humans.

Preservation and maintenance of any artwork and the protection from further deterioration or damage is all art conservation. While art restoration means the renovation of the damaged art and an honest try to give them their original appearance, both conservation of art and restoration of art are the different sides of the same coin.

Some of the world’s greatest artists have expressed their feelings and creativity in the form of great pieces of art. Each of these paintings, artifacts, and all other forms of art are unique and cannot be replicated in their originality. Each of these conveys a timeless message.

Conservation of art has become extremely important today as it gives a glimpse of our ancient heritage and culture. Taking all the wonders of the world as an example we can say that they are unique in their own way and have withstood the test of time through proper preservation, conservation, and restoration from time to time.

Art restoration during ancient times depended on very limited techniques. As science and technology progressed, the techniques also became more refined and effective making us realize the importance of historicpreservation.

The practice of modern conservation is based on repairing, studying, and preserving objects taking care that no permanent changes or alterations are done. Now there are many ways of treating and restoring art objects and professional conservators always document their work through written reports and photographs.

Architecture

Nowadays, restoring old architecture and conserving it is gaining much importance. The world is realizing the importance of ancient buildings and monuments as it connects them to their history. Many ancient buildings are an architectural wonder and some of them have not only been restored but also repaired or some parts have been rebuilt. Master craftsmen are giving their personal touches to give these monuments a new look. This helps the visitors to witness history in the present time.

Paintings

Every painting whether on canvas, wood, wall, neural, paper or ivory have their specific ways of conservation. Canvas paintings can get discolored, torn, or frayed from the edges, or even decay. Paintings on wood can lose their luster as wood can swell or shrink due to climatic changes. Thus, it becomes important to restore and conserve them for future generations to know their ancestors through art.

Sculpture

The sculptures have been created on clay, stone, wood, metal, ivory, and bone and we can also find unique pieces of sculpture on composites and plastics. Stone sculptures can be damaged through erosion, water, or environmental conditions. Metal sculptures mainly deteriorate due to the effects of the environment on metals such as rusting of iron and tarnishing of silver.

Thus, it becomes important to preserve these pieces of art.

Ceramics

Ceramics and clay have been used to create small figurate, objects for decoration as well as a large sculpture which generally don’t deteriorate unless broken.

Textiles

Ancient tapestries and other textiles can fade due to excessive light or get damaged because of air pollution. The fiber of the material can be weakened and lose its luster.

Since museums exhibit various works of ancient art on a large scale it is very important for the art curator to preserve the collectibles according to collections care. It is important to conserve art as it helps in preserving history, reflecting the changes over a period of time in various cultures. Thus, historic preservation is essential for connecting the past with the present.

Also, caring for these collections becomes important as it also helps the collectors build some business by showcasing their artifacts to the public. The general public gains an insight into the history and culture of the older civilizations, their way of life, their eating habits, the garments they wore, and their mind behind the creations.

Art conservation and art preservation play a very important part in appreciating the works of art created by our predecessors and stay in touch with our history.

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Art Conservation, Conservation of Art Art Preservation Historic Restoration

Difference Between : Art preservation vs. Art conservation vs. Restoration

In the world of museum collections care, many phrases and terms might be confusing. Even the most experienced art conservators might use one term when they intended to use another. While using confusing shadows for shading or interchanging the term classic with classical can be a silly mistake in museum care, it is rather a harmless mistake.

But some terms can lead to serious outcomes if interchanged. The most common mistaken terms are restoration, art conservation, and art restoration.

Though these three terms are often confused, they are set apart by many differences. While they are associated with enhancing the artwork, restoration and conservation have different methods to treat an artwork. When someone looking to get their artwork restored interchanges these terms, they could be ending up putting their expensive artwork in the wrong hands.

By figuring out the differences between art conservation, art preservation, and art restoration, you can make an informed decision about the process they want. All are important parts of historic preservation.

Here we have come up with some differences between art conservation and art restoration to clear any doubts about these three fields of work.

Understanding the Definition of Art Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration:

What is Art Preservation?

Art preservation involves protecting an object from destruction and making sure that the object is not altered or changed. It is a commonly used term for architecture and the built environment.

What is Art Conservation?

Conservation refers to the process of preserving the maximum amount of the original material in as unaltered condition as possible. All additions or repairs should be reversible and removable without impacting the condition of the original material, even in the future. However, conservation doesn’t encompass artistic choices or material experimentation on the object. An museum art conservator is also responsible for preserving the original work. It requires them to be skilled in cleaning, repairing, and oftentimes, removing old restoration attempts. They have to make sure that the art is preserved for years to come. They attempt to keep the original piece in its original form as possible.

What is Art Restoration?

Restoration refers to the process of bringing an object back to its original position or condition. When restoring an art object, the absolute focus is on its final appearance. The client and restorer determine the most desirable period of an object’s life, and the restorer does whatever is required to return the object’s original appearance. Some restorers might not consider the long-term, damaging impacts of using certain materials on artwork.

However, it should not be confused with a renovation that is the process of making an object look new. It should be performed by an experienced and knowledgeable person. Otherwise, unsafe practices, tools, and cleaning supplies can lead to irreversible damage immediately or in the future.

Choose the Right Professional to Work With

We hope that you must have understood the key differences between preservation, conservation, and restoration. Like we have said before, every practice plays important role in historic preservation.

Whatever you choose, make sure to work with a certified professional. It will give you peace of mind that your artwork is in the safe hand. They are knowledgeable and certified for maintaining and improving the piece of art. Whether you have an artwork that needs to be cleaned, a sculpture that has to be reassembled, or an artifact that needs to be repaired, choosing the right professional can give your beloved piece of art a new lease of life.

What do you think? Want to say something else? Let us know by commenting below!

Related Article: https://www.barbaraappelbaumbooks.com/post/the-art-conservation-guide-barbara-appelbaum-books