Collections Storage
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

Storage Philosophy
Featured Courses
April Courses
May Courses
June Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Storage Philosophy
by Helen Alten
 
The collection is the heart of the museum and its single greatest asset. Storage is the collection's safe haven and must be as secure and environmentally stable as
possible. Proper storage should provide easy access to the collection while keeping objects safe and secure. The keys are adequate security, proper environmental conditions, appropriate storage fixtures and proper packing and support of artifacts in storage.
 
Storage areas should be clean, well ventilated and properly illuminated. Temperature and humidity levels and air quality must be maintained and monitored regularly. Appropriate fire protection should be installed. Illumination should allow access to the collection without causing damage. While stored, items should be in the dark at all times.
 
How objects within storage areas are packed, supported and stored can be either beneficial or harmful. Often, this is where museums fail. Storage isn't sexy, making upgrades to storage is a hard sell to funding sources. Conversely, exhibits are visible, tangible and understandable.
 
Storage Philosophy
Storage areas provide collection preservation as well as access. Ideally, the area should have a controlled environment, be filtered for dust or have the artifacts covered to protect from dust, and include furniture and storage supports made of inert materials. A clean storage area with open aisles is critical for access. Since carts and large objects need to move through storage areas, using disability guidelines will help plan for smooth artifact movement in countries that don't legally require that spaces be accessible. Design storage areas to make access easy for staff and researchers. The design also should make inventory control easy and allow the collection to be moved with minimal trouble.
 
Phillip Ward in The Nature of Conservation: A Race Against Time writes:
"By definition, museums have four classic functions: They collect, they preserve, they conduct research, and they present or interpret their collections to the public in light of their research. Preservation is the most fundamental of these responsibilities, since without it, research and presentation are impossible and collection is pointless. Conservation is the technology by which preservation is achieved."1
 
Excerpt from the introduction to MS202 Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture. Join instructor Laura Elliff Cruz for this informative course starting April 6, 2020.
 
Helen Alten is the Director of the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in Haines, Alaska. Prior to coming to Haines she founded 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.   
______________________________________________________________________  
1 Ward, Phillip. 1986. The Nature of Conservation: A Race Against Time. (Marina del Rey, CA: The Getty Conservation Institute)
Featured Course: Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions
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.
 
Need to develop a Collections Management Policy for your museum?  Not sure where to begin?  Join Kim Kenney for MS209 Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions starting April 6, 2020 and get started putting your policy together. 
Featured Course: Care of Metals
 
Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed
The British Museum, Emma Traherne  
Creative Commons
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.

Join Diana Komejan April 6 to May 8, 2020 for MS223 Care of Metals to learn more about the metal objects in your collections and how best to care for and preserve them.
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 May Courses is April 4, 2020
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for June Courses is May 15, 2020  
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.
 
MS010: Condition Assessments
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.
 
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.
 
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.
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.
 
June 2020 Courses 
 
June 15 to July 10, 2020
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.
Due to ongoing concerns over the Covid-19 Pandemic many of these Conferences may be cancelled or postponed this year.  Check each organization's website to verify dates.
Conferences and Meetings
 
2020
Texas Association of Museums, Bryan College Station, TX
April 13-16, 2020  CANCELLED--May Reschedule 
 
Museum Store Association, Cleveland, OH
April 23-27, 2020

American Alliance of Museums, San Francisco, CA
May 17-20, 2020
 
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, Alamosa, CO
April 15-18, 2020  CANCELLED 

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  
June 21-25, 2020
 
Association of Midwest Museums, Milwaukee, WI  
July 22-25, 2020 
 
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