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News & Press: Annual Conference

Collections Care Detectives Workshop at the Silver Reef Museum

Monday, September 15, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UMA
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COLLECTIONS CARE DETECTIVES FIGHT CRIMES AGAINST MUSEUM OBJECTS    

Too often our small museums become scenes of crimes. Usually not premeditated, intentional acts of destruction, but crimes, none-the-less. Often they are due to ignorance, negligence, or lack of vigilance in protecting our museum objects from dangerous situations and criminal agents of deterioration. Dangerous conditions encourage slow destructive processes that gradually weaken objects and make them vulnerable to attack from the destructive predators that lurk in our museums. Dangerous conditions, combined with carelessness due to lack of knowledge or vigilance, result in unfortunate accidents.

How can small museums protect our precious objects from such crimes? We can’t just wait and hope for super-heroes to come to the rescue. We can’t sit back and say there is nothing we can do because we have too little money or staff. We need to become our own crime fighting teams. Collections Care Detectives can help us learn how.

Unsafe conditions in our small museums

Most small museum staff has little or no training in collections care. Without sufficient knowledge of safe environmental conditions and agents of deterioration, we often are unaware of the precarious situation many of our objects are in. We may think objects are safely protected in a glass case, but fail to see that light exposure is slowly but surely deteriorating them, or that inadequate mounts are allowing gravity to strain and weaken them. In our well-intentioned efforts to make exhibits attractive, we may place objects on top of other objects or in contact with inappropriate materials that may cause damage. Our policies may discourage object handling beyond placing objects in display cases, however other objects displayed outside cases invite touching by visitors or may need to be moved during cleaning.

Collections Care Detectives Workshop

As part of our 2014 UMA Conference, we are having a day-long Collections Care Detectives Workshop. This will be held at the Silver Reef Museum in Leeds, Utah on Monday September 29, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This workshop is part of the Utah Humanities Council’s Museum Initiative workshop program and is graciously hosted by the Silver Reef Museum.

Our expert Collections Care team will teach workshop participants about the criminal agents of deterioration lurking in storage and exhibit areas (light, heat and humidity extremes and fluctuations, water, pests, chemical agents, etc). Together we will examine the collections environment and museum objects for evidence of deterioration and damage. We will learn simple, inexpensive ways to make improvements in our collections environment. We will gain experience in proper handling of objects to avoid contamination. This workshop will walk us through the necessary steps to prepare properly to move, re-mount and re-house objects so they will be rescued from dangerous situations and better protected from future crimes. We will make simple mounts to better support a variety of museum objects.

By the end of the day we should be able to see actual improvements in the condition of museum objects and environment. We will be able to go back to our museums armed with knowledge, experience, and practical tools so that we will be able to search out and assess the dangers in our own museums and be able to protect and defend our collection from further attacks and careless accidents.

You can register for the Collections Care Detectives Workshop when you register for the 2104 UMA Conference. There is only space for a limited number of participants, so don’t wait too long and miss out! Cost is $20 and you will find this workshop under the “Additional Sessions” section.


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