April 15, 2016       
Northern States Conservation Center Northern States
Conservation Center

The Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter


Collections Management

In This Issue
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
Submissions and Comments
Introduction to Treating Furniture
Introduction to Archives
May and June 2016 courses
July 2016 Courses
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount will be 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 pay only $399.00!
 
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

The Early Bird Discount deadline for June courses is May 21, 2016.

The Early Bird Discount deadline for July courses is June 1, 2016.
Upcoming Classes
Course of the Month:
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.

Join instructor Ernest Conrad for this fascinating and very informative course!  MS211 Preservation Environments begins May 2, 2016.
Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist
Author: Harold Mailand and Dorothy Stites Alig. This recently revised book is the clearest textile care publication available. Gives an overview of how textiles are damaged and what can be done to stop or slow the damage. In-depth information on cleaning, storing and displaying textiles. Excellent color plates. 92 pp

Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist

$18.00
Steal This Handbook
Author: the Southeastern Registrars Committee. This is a comprehensive book covering emergency preparedness and response for every conceivable type and scale of disaster on historic and non-historic materials. Written by the Southeastern Registrars Committee of the American Association of Museums, we purchase it before it is bound and have it punched to fit in a three ring binder. Adding dividers, it becomes an instant addition to an institutional emergency response plan. Response professionals can add useful articles to the enormous amount of recovery information already provided in the book.
Steal This Handbook
$25.00
Regional Workshops

Where you can find some of our instructors in 2015:

Stevan P. Layne

  • American Alliance of Museums 2016 Annual Meeting, May 28, 2016
Certified Institutional Protection Manager Class
  • American Alliance of Museums 2016 Annual Meeting, May 29, 2016
Certified Institutional Protection Manager (CIPM) Class
  • Association of Midwest Museums, July 27, 2016
  • Association of Midwest Museums, July 28, 2016
  • Aspen, CO, August 28-31, 2016
Gawain Weaver
  • University of Kansas Libraries, June 13-16, 2016
Conferences and Meetings

Museum Store Association
Atlanta, GA
April 15-18, 2016
 
Museums Association New York
Museums - Core to Communities
The Wild Center & Lake Placid, NY
April 17-19, 2016
 
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums
Casper, WY
April 28 -30, 2016

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
Washington DC
May 24-25, 2016
 
American Alliance of Museums
Washington, DC
May 26-29, 2016   

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
Berlin, Germany
June 20-25, 2016

Society of American Archivists
Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and Society of American Archivists
Atlanta, GA
July 31, 2016 - August 6, 2016

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection
Aspen, Colorado
August 28-31, 2016
 
American Association of State and Local History
Detroit, Michigan
September 14-17, 2016

Alberta Museums Association
Calgary, Alberta
September 15 - 17, 2016

Oklahoma Museums Association
Bartlesville, Oklahoma
September 21-23, 2016

Western Museums Association
Phoenix, AZ
September 25-28, 2016.  
 
Southeastern Museums Conference
Charlotte, NC
October 10-12, 2016
 
 
Mountain-Plains Museums Association
Oklahoma City
October 23-27, 2016

National Association for Interpretation
Corpus Christi, Texas 
November 8-12, 2016
 
New England Museum Association
2016 Annual Conference
Mystic, CT
November 9-11, 2016

2017 
Society of American Archivists
2017 Annual Meeting
Portland, OR
July 23 - 29, 2017

Southeastern Museums Conference
2017 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017

New England Museum Association
2017 Annual Conference
North Falmouth, MA
October 25-27, 2017
 
National Association for Interpretation
Spokane, Washington
November 14-18, 2017

  2018
Society of American Archivists
2018 Annual Meeting
Washington, DC
August 12- 18, 2018
 
Southeastern Museums Conference
2018 Annual Meeting
Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation
Dates and location TBD
November 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation
Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019

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?   

 

Send it to peggy@collectioncare.org

Join Our Mailing List
Quick Links
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful 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 an article.
Introduction to Treating Furniture
By Diana Komejan
 
When caring for furniture, knowing what not to do is more useful than knowing what to do. Benign neglect can be a superior option. Many old writings recommend using linseed oil and suggest we need to "feed" the coatings and wood. It is untrue. A piece of furniture or other wooden object is not alive. If it appears dried out, it is because of the environment. If relative humidity is too low, the drying is caused by the moisture levels within the wood and no amount of oil, linseed or otherwise, will correct or prevent this. We cannot "feed" the wood; it is not a cat.
Descrição Artisan Carved Wood Chair, Casa Loma, Toronto, Canada pt.wikipedia.org
Coatings are much the same way. If it appears dried out, it is due to its environment. In this case it's usually UV damage. While an application of oil on a coating appears to have "fed" the coating, it is an optical illusion called "the illusion of gloss." This is the oil or other polish merely giving the surface some gloss, which makes it brighter and thus improves the appearance.

Think of it this way, shellac is a natural resin, which is dissolved in alcohol; it is impervious to oil and thus cannot absorb it. The oil merely lies on top, which creates a dust trap. With the case of linseed and other drying oils (tung or walnut oil) they change with time and "cross link" meaning they go from a liquid to a solid by polymerization. This traps all the accumulated dust and pollution. Once polymerized, an oil layer is difficult to remove.
 
With that said, let's move on to what we CAN do.
 
In most cases, the care of furniture involves cleaning the coating. To do this properly, we need to know what the coating is. Many different materials have been used to coat furniture and other wooden objects, whether it is shellac (a common resin) or colophony (the resin from pines trees), they all respond differently due to their chemical makeup. Shellac is produced by an insect, while most other natural resins come from plants.
 
Most of the cleaning that is recommended for furniture and wood artifacts is dust removal, taking care not to rub dust across the surface and scratch it.

There are pros and cons when it comes to protective coatings. Be sure to avoid anything with silicone in it. Silicone is irreversible AND makes it impossible to apply later coatings. If a coating is deemed necessary, a microcrystalline wax paste with a bit of carnauba wax in it to harden the paste is the best choice.
 
Much of your treatment will be pest control. Thermal changes (heat or cold) and anoxia (no oxygen) are the preferred treatments for infested wood. Take precautions that relative humidity is maintained, no matter which treatment is chosen.
 
Excerpt from MS226 Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts which begins May 2, 2016. Join Diana Komejan for this informative course and learn all you ever wanted to know about wooden artifacts.
 
Diana Komejan graduated from Sir Sandford Fleming Colleges Art Conservation Techniques program in 1980. She has worked for Parks Canada; Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan; Heritage Branch Yukon Territorial Government; National Gallery of Canada; Canadian Museum of Nature; Yukon Archives and the Antarctic Heritage Trust and is currently teaching Conservation Techniques in the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. In 1995 she was accredited in Mixes Collection with The Canadian Association of Professional Conservators. Her work as a conservator has been quite broad in scope, having worked with historic sites, archaeological excavations and museums. In addition to lab treatments, Diana has broad archaeological experience, including the excavation of mammoths and dinosaur tracks.
Introduction to Archives
By Jenna Edwards
 
What is an archive?
Archives: SAA Definition (Society of American Archivists) - "Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator."
 
Other meanings for Archives:
  • Materials - Records of an institution preserved for enduring value.
  • Place - The building or facility that houses archival materials.
  • Agency - The office, program or division that has responsibility for preserving, identifying and making available records of permanent value.
Archival Purpose
What purpose or mission does an archive fulfill?
  • Identify records and papers of enduring value
  • Conduct internal surveys, appraise and acquire records on permanent value to the archives
  • Usually governed by a collection statement or scope of collection
  • Preserve records or papers
  • Accession, arrange, preserve and ensure security of records for long term care.
  • Make available to shareholders (public and institutional)
  • Provide access and reference via cataloging, finding aids and establishing reference services
  • Create interest and support for collections via outreach and promotion 
Hunter, Gregory. Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives (New York: Neal Schuman Publishers, INC., 2003), 5.
Brief History of Institutional Archives
The need to preserve communication sources (writing, text, images) has been around as long as communication has been. Ancient worlds utilized various forms of media including:
  • 690 B.C. - Clay tablets still exist documenting the Egibi family in Babylon
  • 5th century B.C. - Papyrus still exists in Aramaic
  • In Athens valuable documents were kept on papyrus and stored in the temple of the mother of gods
  • Documents included treaties, laws, minutes and important cultural documents such as plays by Sophocles and Euripides
  • Rome's official archives were created by Cicero (1st century B.C.)
  • Catallus built the tabularium, the state archives of Rome between 121 and 60 B.C.
  • Modern Archives began in 1543 at Simancas in Spain
  • The first modern institutional archive is the French National Archive which was created as a result of the French Revolution. The archive was created to document newly won freedoms and protect citizen rights and the old ways of the monarchy. France was the first country to guarantee citizens access to archival records.
  • The National Archives of England was created in 1838. Prior to creation there were 50 records repositories scattered throughout England holding public records.
  • The United States National Archives (National Archives and Records Administration) was established in 1934.
History of National Archives in the United States and the Archival Profession
Archival profession in the United States
  • 1909 - The American Historical Association sponsored the first conference of Archivists
  • 1936 - Establishment of the Society of American Archivists (SAA)
  • 1975 - Association of Canadian Archivists created
  • 1989 - Academy of Certified Archivists established
There are three traditional paths to becoming an archivist
  • History
  • Library Science
  • Other - long term employees with institutional knowledge or key administrators
SAA overview of archives profession: So you want to be an archivist?
Archival Education in the United States
  • Creation of the National Archives in 1934 caused a need for standardized training for archivists
  • One of the early focuses of the SAA was the need for education and training
  • The first coursework in archival management was taught at Columbia University in 1938-1939
  • In 1939, Washington DC university, American University, partnered with the National Archives to offer coursework that combined theory with practice
  • In 1977, SAA issued the first guidelines for archival education. The initial guidelines focused on an introduction course, a special topics course, and an internship
  • In 2002, SAA approved guidelines for a graduate program in archival studies
Professional Ethics: SAA Code of ethics for the archives profession
  • Created to inform new profession members of standards of conduct
  • Remind experienced archivists of their responsibilities
  • Educate stakeholders, patrons and the public about archives standards
"The Society endorses this Code of Ethics for Archivists as principles of the profession. This Code should be read in conjunction with SAA's "Core Values of Archivists." Together they provide guidance to archivists and increase awareness of ethical concerns among archivists, their colleagues, and the rest of society. As advocates for documentary collections and cultural objects under their care, archivists aspire to carry out their professional activities with the highest standard of professional conduct. The behaviors and characteristics outlined in this Code of Ethics should serve as aspirational principles for archivists to consider as they strive to create trusted archival institutions."
 
Excerpt from MS234: Archives Management which begins May 2, 2016. Join Jenna Edwards for this interesting and informative course and learn how to process and care for your museum's archival materials.
 
Jenna Edwards is the Technical Information Specialist for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. She manages the library, archives and web functions for the NWRC.  After completing an MA in Public History at Wright State University located in Dayton, Ohio, she began working for the National Park Service at cultural and environmental heritage sites including the National Archives for Black Women's History and the South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) located in Everglades National Park. She then transitioned to the USDA National Wildlife Research Center, which combined her love of archives and environmental history. Her current projects include digitizing archival materials, the preservation and conservation of data and creation of an electronic records management filing scheme.  
May 2016 Courses
May 2 to 13, 2016
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 2 to June 10, 2016
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 2 to 27, 2016
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 2 to 27, 2016
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 2 to 27, 2016
Instructor: Jennifer Edwards
Description:
Archives include flat paper, photographs, bound pamphlets, books, small 3-dimensional objects, and magnetic media. The Archives Management course covers an introduction to the materials found in archives and typical use of these materials including use patterns, retrieval needs, finding aids, handling and exhibition. The last half of the course details optimum storage options for archival materials. Storage includes furniture, storage techniques, standardized and specialized housing such as folders and boxes and custom-made housings.
 
June 2016 Courses
June 20 to August 5, 2016
Instructor:  Gawain Weaver
Description:
Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.
July 2016 Courses
 
July 1 to August 26, 2016
Instructor: Terri Schindel
Description:
Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course. Once completed with this course, we recommend the Disaster Preparation and Recovery course taught by Helen Alten to provide more information about staff organization and management during and after a disaster.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
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 1 to August 12, 2016
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 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Helen Alten
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.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
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.
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