April 15, 2021
Northern States Conservation Center

Collections Caretaker eNewsletter
Museum Storage
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. the newsletter is designed to bring you content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute and article.
In this Issue

Storage Facilities
Featured Courses
May Courses
June Courses
July Courses
August Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Storage Facilities
By Helen Alten

Collections are stored in all manner of facilities: barns, basements, attics, closets, the second floor of historic houses and offsite storage facilities. Some storage areas share a building with other museum functions, such as exhibits or offices, while others share space with non-museum functions such as rental apartments, cafeterias or garages.

Ideal storage space has stable relative humidity and temperature, no dust nor fumes, appropriate light, no pests, leaks nor fire hazards. It is easily accessible, and the collection is organized, well labeled and easy to retrieve. Finally, the space is expandable to fit the needs of a growing collection. OK, so the ideal never exists. Some museums get pretty close, but even the best have the occasional dripping sprinkler head, mouse incursion, or forgotten corner piled with artifacts. Storage improvement is a process. The Detroit Institute of Arts talks about “shifting up.” As improvements are made to one space, every other space is improved a little as well. For example, buying premium cabinets for one space might free up adequate metal shelving that will replace substandard wood shelving in another storage space. Using a planned approach, with an overall goal of optimal storage, these advances contribute to the overall improvement of preservation.

Planning Collection Storage Space
In the United States, the National Park Service suggests using an outside contractor to survey your storage area and write a collection storage plan. An outside contractor is recommended because he or she brings fresh eyes to situations that you may no longer notice. For example, one museum, noted for its innovative storage improvements, has neglected its large-artifact storage barn for 20 years because the problem is so immense none of the staff has the energy to tackle it or even devise an implementation plan. It has become a classic case of out of sight, out of mind. A collection storage plan should include a determination of the space and equipment needed; a floor plan with recommended equipment layout; and a summary of current storage techniques with suggested improvements. It should also provide solutions for urgent problems. The contractor’s report may also include a brief overview of the collection and compare existing storage areas with generally accepted standards. (References to current standards are listed in the bibliography). The report may also include a synopsis of funding and staffing resources, if alternative storage is recommended.
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Excerpt from MS202: Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture. If you are thinking about updating your storage or maybe working on a plan for a new storage facility this course has some great information for you! Join Laura Elliff Cruz for this very informative course on Museum Storage starting on May 3, 2021.

Helen Alten is the founder of Northern States Conservation Center and Museum Classes. She is an objects conservator with a desire to bring about change through museums, improving our communities and the patrimony we leave to our off-spring.   
Featured Course:
Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts
Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.
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Are you providing the best care possible for your wooden artifacts? Would you like to learn more about wood and how to identify different kinds of wood? Join Diana Komejan for this informative and important course for all museums and historic houses that care for wooden artifacts and furniture. MS226 Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts begins May 3, 2021.
Featured Course:
Preservation Environments

The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.
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Join Ernest Conrad for MS211 Preservation Environments to learn more about the science behind the environmental standards in museums and learn how to talk to your facilities staff about collection needs.
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course. 
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org

Earlybird Discount Deadline for June 2021 Courses is May 16, 2021

Earlybird Discount Deadline for July 2021 Courses is June 6, 2021

Earlybird Discount Deadline for August 2021 Courses is July 3, 2021
NEW DATES!!!! Starts May 3, 2021

May 3 to 28, 2021
Instructor: Laura Elliff Cruz
Description:
If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.

The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.
After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.

The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.
May Courses

May 3 to 14, 2021
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description
Self-guided brochures, exhibit labels, docent led tours, guest speakers, and audio tours are only a few of the methods available to guide visitors through an exhibit. Explore the strengths and challenges of many different methods and garner resources for further information. Learn how to determine which method works best with which exhibits and how to provide variety to enhance the visitor experience.

May 3 to June 11, 2021
Instructor: Ernest Conrad
Description:
The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.
 
May 3 to 28, 2021
Instructor: Ann Coppinger
Description:
Caring for textiles demands an understanding of how and why they deteriorate. This course offers a simplified explanation of the origin and structure of textile fibers as well as the finished textile object; be it either a piece of whole cloth or a finished garment. Care of Textiles teaches students to identify fibers, fabric structures and finishes, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to various fabrics both in storage on exhibit. Topics include preparing textiles for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with textiles, and three dimensional supports.

May 3 to 28, 2021
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.

May 3 to 28, 2021
Instructor: John Veverka
Description:
The Planning, design and text copy development for interpretive panels is a practical “how to do it” course to develop updated or new interpretive panels for heritage sites, historic homes, natural areas, zoos, and other related sites. Panels are the most widely use interpretive media, world-wide, to quickly present a message or story to site visitors in a memorable fashion. We will look at the interpretive planning process, interpretive design concerns, interpretive text writing for panels, panel fabrication materials, panel pre-testing evaluation, and even how to write a RFP (request for proposal) to have your panels fabricated. This is an important course for any interpretive staff member, planner, designer or manager.
The course includes an e-copy of John’s Interpretive Planning Textbook, and a e-copy of John’s new The Interpretive Trails Book.

June Courses

June 14 to July 9, 2021
Instructor: Sarah Kapellusch
Description:
In this course we will examine the most significant laws and regulations that affect collections management, including the legal organization of museums, responsibilities of governing boards, collections care, loans and gifts, international regulations, intellectual property, cultural appropriation, and freedom of expression.
July Courses

July 5 to 30, 2021
Instructor: Laura Elliff Cruz
Description:
Is your collection stacked, packed and stressed? Museum Storage Techniques has the solution. The course builds on its sister course, Museum Facilities and Furniture, which looks at the bigger storage environment.. The Museum Storage Techniques course emphasizes the needs of individual objects and collection groupings. Guidelines for specific materials are provided. Participants learn about storage materials and mounts and the most effective use of trays, drawers, shelves and cabinets.

July 5 to 30, 2021
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households

July 5 to August 13, 2021
Instructor: Christina Cain
Description:
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches in your kitchen, is finding them in your museum collection. Participants in Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives learn low-toxicity methods of controlling infestations. IPM is the standard method for treating incoming items and monitoring holdings. Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives discusses how infestations occur, helps identify risks, provides feasible mitigation strategies, discusses the different techniques of treating infested materials, and helps you complete an IPM plan and monitoring schedule for your institution. The course covers pest identification, insects, rodent, birds, bats, other mammals and mold infestations, as well as other problems raised by participants.

July 5 to 30, 2021
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions. Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.

July 5 to 30, 2021
Instructor: John Veverka
Description:
It’s often difficult to teach interpretive techniques and principles to others when you may have not had any formal training in interpretation yourself. The course provides ways to develop and deliver interpretive training courses and workshops for cultural sites and staff charged with developing interpretive training for their docents, volunteers, seasonal interpretive staff, or full time interpretive staff.
This course includes a copy of our new e-textbook, the Interpretive Trainers Handbook.
Course Goals: Upon completion of this course participants will:
- Have interpretive training program lesson plans and schedule of instructions drafted out.
- Have a working knowledge of key interpretive elements they should be teaching.

July 5 to 30, 2021
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Co-Taught by Erin Gates
Description:
Embracing the benefits of having a digital presence for our museums will help us fulfill our missions and expand our reach. How can you optimize your educational outreach and build your community by making the wider world aware of your museum during the digital age? Learn valuable tools for how to best leverage the power of social media for both marketing and educational purposes. Discover the various ways in which you can provide live educational programming using social media livestreams and video-conference platforms for your social media following, school groups, or private revenue generating tours. Highlight your museum collections using digital tools and be a part of the growing use of AR/VR experiences to reach more visitors. Explore how digital tools help meet visitors' basic and growth needs, enabling them to potentially reach the peak experiences described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The result is a deeper connection to your museum from a wide range of visitors. At the conclusion of this course, you will have the digital tool kit you need to digitize your museum education and an understanding of best practices when providing digital education programming.
August Courses

August 2 to 27, 2021  NEW DATES!!!
Instructor: Sarah Kapellusch
Description:
A collection database is a necessary tool for accurate and efficient collections management. In Collection Management Databases you will learn what characteristics distinguish one database system from another; how a database can be used to manage inventory, conservation, pest management, and other aspects of collections management; as well as how to prepare your collection and documentation for entry into a database.

August 2 to 27, 2021
Instructor: Elizabeth Burton
Description:
Cobwebs in the gallery, dust on the dinosaur skeleton, mice in storage - a dirty museum results in poor visitor experience and poor collections preservation. In a museum, cleanliness really is next to godliness. Museum Cleaning Basics explores everything you need to know about cleaning your collections. Participants learn when to clean - and when not to clean. They also learn how to make those decisions. Topics range from basic housekeeping to specific techniques for specific objects. You will learn why cleaning is important and how to prevent damage when cleaning. We will look at specific techniques that minimize damage while getting the work done. And we will discuss when to call in a specialist, such as a conservator. Students will create a housekeeping manual for their institution.

August 2 to 27, 2021
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
The world of museum education is as varied as the imagination. From school field trips to online blogs, from 2-year-olds to senior citizens, and from formal programs to volunteering, it is all part of the educational delivery system of a museum. In Education in Museums, survey the education programs offered at your site. Determine what exhibits and collections need better representation through education. Develop a long term plan of education program development for your site that you can use to improve services to your community.

August 2 to 27, 2021
Instructor: Stefani Pendergast
Description:
Moving collections is a daunting task. Fragile items need special packing and care to be safely transported. Large, heavy or awkward items like dinosaurs and oversized sculptures require special equipment and support from local authorities. How do you design your project to meet the budget and timing demands of your administration? Are your collections over-packed in acidic boxes and does your move includes improving their storage and care? Collections often take up more room when they are stored properly. How do you determine your needed storage space when the collection is decompressed? Moving Collections provides an overview of how to plan and manage a move to avoid the many pitfalls. The course includes: defining your project, developing a Request for Proposal (RFP), developing a work plan, staffing, and packing protocols. Whether you are moving part of the collection within your building or moving the entire collection to another facility, Moving Collections provides a blueprint for you to follow.
Covid-19 Resources

Many organizations have put together information on resources for Museums and Covid-19. Here are a few links to those Resources. Check back with these organizations for updates.

Use the drop-down menu in the upper right to find Webinars, Virtual tours and more


Conferences and Meetings
Double check each organization's website for more information. Some may still be going virtual this year due to continued safety concerns over Covid 19.
2021
American Alliance of Museums
Virtual Meeting: May 24 and June 7-9, 2021
Chicago, IL: May 9-12, 2021
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Jacksonville, FL
May 11-15, 2021
 
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Virtual
June 7-11, 2021
 
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Archbold, OH
June 11-14, 2021

Association of Midwest Museums, Milwaukee, WI
July 2021

Society of American Archivists, Anaheim, CA
July 31 - August 7, 2021

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Sioux Falls, SD
October 5-8, 2021

Oklahoma Museums Association, Shawnee, OK
September 15-17, 2021

American Association of State and Local History, Little Rock, AR
September 22-25, 2021    Virtual and Live

Southeastern Museums Conference, Chattanooga, TN
October 25 - 27, 2021

New England Museum Association, Newport, RI
November 17-19, 2021

National Association for Interpretation, Palm Springs, CA
November 3-December 4, 2021

Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Wilmington, DE
October 14-16-2021

2022
American Alliance of Museums, Boston MA
May 19-22, 2022

Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Tacoma, WA
June 23-28, 2022

Society of American Archivists, Boston, MA
August 20-27, 2022

Oklahoma Museums Association, Enid, OK
September 14-16, 2022

National Association for Interpretation, Cleveland, OH
November 29-Decemver 3, 2022

2023
American Alliance of Museums, Denver, CO
May 19-22, 2023

Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC
July 22-29, 2023
Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter: 
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?  
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager