GRANT UPDATE << CONSERVATION
Conservation Grant Update
Monica Brook, Conservator
One year ago, in April 2001, the museum received its first Conservation Project Support grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The project supported by this funding has been completed, and by all measures
is a success.
The grant provided funding to purchase environmental monitoring equipment for
our galleries, archives, and collection storage. This specialized equipment allows us to monitor and record climatic conditions such as temperature, relative
humidity, illumination, and ultraviolet light.
Monitoring and controlling these environmental factors is vital to the longevity of
our artifacts. After an artifact has been stabilized in our
conservation lab it is still susceptible to deterioration. The proper environment can make a significant difference in the “life” of an object. Iron artifacts, for example are
susceptible to corrosion if the relative humidity (RH) is above 65%, but they are not affected by ultraviolet light (UV). Ivory, on the other
hand, is extremely sensitive to UV light and fluctuating temperatures. Organic
materials, such as wood may crack and distort if the RH is too low or if it fluctuates. High temperatures or low relative humidity can be detrimental to an artifact,
and unstable, fluctuating environments can be the most destructive causing irreversible damage. In order to accommodate
the needs for the variety of materials in our collection, and to avoid fluctuations,
we strive for stability and a balance that is favorable for all the artifacts in our collection.
Having the equipment to monitor the environment has greatly improved our ability
to provide the best care for our collection. Under the direction of project consultant, John Maseman, we have implemented steps towards
stabilizing the environment in our galleries and collection storage.
The Conservation Project Support grant also provided funding for supplies to improve and increase the storage capacity in our
collection facilty. Additional shelves for our existing units were purchased, and the artifacts were carefully cleaned and moved onto temporary shelving while the new shelves were installed. New acid-free cardboard and ethafoam padding was placed on the shelves, and lastly, the
artifacts were moved onto the new shelves.
For the large collection of ceramic sherds,
mostly fragments of Spanish olive jars, new storage containers made from a strong chemically
inert plastic were also purchased, replacing the old ones. Before being housed in the new containers the sherds were cleaned, organized, counted, and labeled. The funding also
provided for new metal shelving units for our faunal (bone) collection, which replaced the old unsturdy wood shelves.
By allowing us to purchase better storage and monitoring equipment, the Conservation Project Support grant has greatly improved our ability
to ensure the appropriate long-term care for an important collection of
conservation for more