Archaeological Collections
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.
In This Issue

Activities in the Archaeological Field Lab
Featured Courses
2020 Course List Updated
Conferences and Meetings
Activities in the Archaeological Field Lab
By Diana Komejan
Think about your typical archaeological site. The vast majority of archaeologists work in primitive conditions. The same is true of most field conservation labs. As a result, identifying, registering, packing and performing simple treatments are the most you can hope to accomplish in a field lab.
 
Cleaning should be minimal. Limit activities to soft brushing to remove loose dirt, possibly with gentle encouragement from a bamboo skewer or wood applicator stick. If more cleaning is required, then you should have a conservator staffing the field lab.
 
Registration assigns a number to each find. This number ties the paperwork - the records you create - to the find. Registration will be discussed in more detail in this course. Usually the site registrar is responsible for primary record keeping.
 
Record keeping requires that you tell as much as possible about the piece in the field. It's also important to include condition photographs and simple condition reports - something a conservator might complete. In the records, also note pieces that could benefit from X-rays. The conservator ensures condition and treatment records are linked to the registrar's records using appropriate site numbers.
 
Drying. You may be able to dry some artifacts, such as certain stable ceramics or glass. Always test dry a sample artifact to make sure no changes occur. Metals, from "dry" sites should be air-dried before packing and kept dry in sealed boxes with dry silica gel. Antler and bone from dry sites can usually be air-dried, too. However, the unheated site lab humidity may still be much higher than the storage area that is centrally heated. Taking material from the field to storage can be problematic. Organic materials should go through a conservation facility first.
 
Packing. All artifacts should be packed for safe shipment back to the research facility. Further examination and conservation would occur there.
 
In some instances, there is no research facility or main laboratory where artifacts will receive further treatment. In those cases, your field lab must provide more in depth treatments, bringing the artifacts to a stable state for long-term preservation. This will require more staff, more time and more materials. Even then, some objects might be temporarily stabilized and stored for continued work in a following season.
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Excerpt from MS215 Care of Archaeological Artifacts from the Field to the Lab.  To learn more join Diana for this course starting March 2, 2020.  
 
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.
Rescheduled! Featured Course: Scripting the Exhibition
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. 
 
Want to learn how to create better and more interesting exhibit labels?  Join Karin Hostetter for MS235 Scripting the Exhibition  starting April 6, 2020 to learn the keys to writing interesting and informative exhibit labels.
Featured Course: Visitor Motivations for Selecting Programs
 
This course will help you increase your visitor numbers;
- help you develop successful diverse interpretive program offerings;
- help you improve visitor motivational marketing;
- improve your visitor "experiences" development offerings.

If you don't understand what your visitors (and not your curators) want - you can't increase visitation.  This course will help you be "visitor centered" in their needs and interests by gender and age groups.
 
A visitor-centered course on how to increase your visitor program participation numbers (attendance) in interpretive programs and experiences. John Veverka researched why visitors select and attend interpretive programs for  2 years while working as a seasonal naturalist with Ohio State Parks and completing his MS in interpretation from the Ohio State University.  The results of this research was groundbreaking for program planning. Employing research results increased program attendance the following year by over 30%. This course teaches how to do your own research into what motivates your visitors. The results may help you increase your visitor numbers and their satisfaction with the experience you offered.

Hear from instructor John Veverka here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiqdNLr2UpQ

Join John for Visitor Motivations for Selection Programs starting March 2, 2020 to learn more.
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
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for April Courses is March 7, 2020  
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for May Courses is April 4, 2020
 
Rescheduled  Courses! 
 
March 2 to April 10, 2020  New Dates!
Instructor:  Tom Bennett
Description:
Sprucing up your exhibits with safe, effective, inexpensive mounts can be easier and more fun than you thought. With a few tools, good technique and a bit of practice, you will be well on the way to presenting your objects in their most interesting light, with an eye on long-term safety and security. Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts presents the basics of mountmaking for the small to medium-sized museum including tools, techniques and materials. Be prepared to construct mounts during the course. Students will be sent a list of materials and tools to acquire before the course commences. Come along and exercise your creative side while doing the collection a world of good.
 
April 6 to May 1, 2020  New Dates!
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.
 
April 20 to May 1, 2020 New Dates!
Instructor:  Elizabeth Burton
Description:
Whenever an object leaves or enters your museum, it should have a dated condition report completed. A condition report is so much more than "good" or "poor." Learn about different types of condition reports, what is essential and what is optional information in each, the function of a condition report, and how to use an online condition assessment tool.  
 
 
March 2020 Courses
 
March 2 to 27, 2020  
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
Volunteers are essential for most non-profit institutions. But good volunteers aren't born -- they are made. Even though they don't get paychecks, it takes time and money to have effective volunteers. Fundamentals of Museum Volunteer Programs teaches the basics of a strong volunteer program. Topics include recruiting, training and rewarding volunteers, as well as preparing staff. Instruction continues through firing and liabilities. Participants will end up with sound foundational knowledge for starting a new or strengthening an existing volunteer program based on a nine-step process.
 
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Archaeological finds come out of the ground fragile - and they often stay that way. Yet archaeologists and museum professionals have few clear guidelines for handling, moving, storing and displaying such materials. Participants in Care of Archaeological Artifacts From the Field to the Lab learn techniques for safely lifting and packing artifacts, safe transportation and temporary and permanent storage. The course also covers a broad range of excavation environments, including the Arctic, wet sites, tropical and temperate. Though Care of Archaeological Artifacts is not intended to train archaeological conservators, it is designed to help participants understand what can and can't be done to save the artifacts they unearth
 
MS 227: Care of Paintings  
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  Elizabeth Burton
Description:
Caring for paintings requires some knowledge of the component structure of paintings and the reaction of those components to both natural and man-made environments. This course looks at the painting structure, the effects of damaging environments, and proposes simple steps for basic care. Topics include the structure of paintings, proper condition reporting with standard damage vocabulary, and basic care and handling including environments, storage, and transport. The course is intended to help those entrusted with the care of paintings in any environment.
 
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  John Veverka
Description:
A visitor-centered course on how to increase your visitor program participation numbers (attendance) in interpretive programs and experiences. John Veverka researched why visitors select and attend interpretive programs for  2 years while working as a seasonal naturalist with Ohio State Parks and completing his MS in interpretation from the Ohio State University.  The results of this research was groundbreaking for program planning. Employing research results increased program attendance the following year by over 30%. This course teaches how to do your own research into what motivates your visitors. The results may help you increase your visitor numbers and their satisfaction with the experience you offered.
 
April 2020 Courses
  
April 13 to 17, 2020   
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
As we march boldly toward the 22nd century, artifact collecting includes that most fragile of materials - plastic. Not only is it in our collections, but it is used to house our collections, too. What problems have you seen? What problems have others seen? What materials are best? What can we, as caretakers, do to minimize long-term damage? Join Diana in this mini-course for discussing care and deterioration of plastics. Bring any questions you have about plastics in your museum.
 
April 6 to May 1, 2020  
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.
 
April 6 to May 15, 2020   
Instructor:  Kimberly Kenney
Description:
Acquiring and holding collections impose specific legal, ethical and professional obligations. Museums must ensure proper management, preservation and use of their collections. A well-crafted collections management policy is key to collections stewardship. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions helps participants develop policies that meet professional and legal standards for collections management. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions teaches the practical skills and knowledge needed to write and implement such a policy. The course covers the essential components and issues a policy should address. It also highlights the role of the policy in carrying out a museum's mission and guiding stewardship decisions. Participants are expected to draft collections management policies.
 
April 6 to May 8, 2020  
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed indoor or outdoors depending on the object. Learn how to identify different types of metal and their alloys. Gain an understanding of how and why metals deteriorate and methods for preventing deterioration from occurring or continuing. The pros and cons of different popular treatments will be covered along with recommendations for the least damaging approach to treatment. Care of Metals provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of metals, explaining the importance of the galvanic series and electrochemistry in care strategies. Starting with an overview of the history and function of metals and how they are made, the course will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing metals. An overview of treatments, including cleaning, used on metals and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the metal object will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.
 
April 6 to May 1, 2020  
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.
May 2020 Courses
 
May 4 to 15, 2020
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 4 to June 12, 2020
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 4 to 29, 2020
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 4 to 29, 2020
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 4 to 29, 2020
Instructor:  John Veverka
Description:
What makes an interpretive exhibit "interpretive"?  This course will help staff new to interpretive exhibit planning; theme and objective development, and label copy development, create truly successful exhibits that effectively communicate their messages to your visitors.
This course provides guidelines and tools for planning and managing interpretive exhibit projects for parks, museums, historic sites, zoos, botanical gardens and related interpretive sites for interpretive staff, managers/heads of education, charged with developing or evaluating their interpretive exhibits, or for exhibit design consultants who have had no formal training in interpretive communications.
Conferences and Meetings
 
2020
California Association of Museums, Los Angeles, CA
March 4-6, 2020
 
Texas Association of Museums, Bryan College Station, TX
April 13-16, 2020
 
Museum Store Association, Cleveland, OH
April 23-27, 2020
 
June 21-25, 2020
Association of Midwest Museums, Milwaukee, WI July 22-25, 2020

Museums Association New York, Albany, NY
March 29-31, 2020
 
American Alliance of Museums, San Francisco, CA
May 17-20, 2020
 
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, Alamosa, CO
April 15-18, 2020

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Edinburgh, Scotland
June 7-13, 2020
 
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
 
June 17-20, 2020
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Boston/Sturbridge, MA
 
Society of American Archivists/Council of State Archivists, Chicago, IL
August 2-8, 2020
 
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Sioux Falls, SD
September 1-4, 2020
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Enid, OK
September 16-18, 2020
 
Smithsonian Institution and Office of Protection Services
National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, Los Angeles, CA
September 21-23, 2020
   

 
 
American Association of State and Local History, Las Vegas, NV
September 23-26, 2020
 
Western Museums Association, Portland, OR October 8-11, 2020
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection
October 8-13Washington, DC
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, Louisville, KY
October 19-21, 2020
 
New England Museum Association, Newport, RI
November 18-20, 2020
 
National Association for Interpretation, Saint Augustine, FL
November 10-14, 2020
 
Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Wilmington, DE Dates TBA
 
2021
American Alliance of Museums, Chicago, IL
May 9-12, 2021
 
National Association for Interpretation, Palm Springs, CA
November 3-December 4, 2021
  
2022
American Alliance of Museums, Boston MA
May 19-22, 2022
 
National Association for Interpretation, Cleveland, OH
November 29-Decemver 3, 2022
 
2023
American Alliance of Museums, Denver, CO
May 19-22, 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