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Subject: Exhibiting raw wool

Exhibiting raw wool

From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh<-at->
Date: Monday, December 7, 2009
Megan Mcintosh <mcin0179 [at] algonquincollege__com> writes

>We are developing an exhibit about the woollen manufacturing
>industry at a small regional museum. We would like to include wool
>at various stages of development, starting with raw wool, to show to
>visitors how the machines process it. The curator is reluctant to
>use raw wool within the exhibit as someone told him a few years ago
>that it would attract pests, (though completed textile pieces are
>regularly displayed in the museum). ...

Using pesticides on the wool would only kill insects after they ate
it, so that is another unhelpful idea.  In the bad old days, we used
mothballs as repellents, but they are not considered safe enough for
long-term use.  As it turns out, vigilance and cleanliness do the
job of preventing infestation pretty well, and "freezing" works
better than chemicals if you have an infestation.  I strongly
recommend

    <URL:museumpests.net>

for a host of wonderful--and practical--advice.

But that's the easy part.  The hard part is when a non-conservator
champions some hard-and-fast preservation "rule" that is mistaken. I
have seen many young university-trained registrars or collections
managers that take a hard line about things they don't really
understand--like specifying 50% RH levels--sometimes even for
collections that aren't RH-sensitive.  It is uncomfortable in the
extreme to correct such a person, particularly when they are--or
think they are--being pro-conservation.  Often, trying to correct
them doesn't work because they think it means that you don't take
their collections or their problems seriously enough, or that you
don't have the stomach to push people to do the right thing.  I'm
sure readers of the DistList are aware of the huge amount of
mis-information related to conservation among museum professionals.
The difficulty is what to do about it.

    **** Moderator's comments: Barbara wrote, adding:

    I neglected to mention that any materials brought in from
    outside, like plant materials, should be inspected carefully
    and/or out into a freezer for about a week in order to assure
    that no insects of viable eggs are brought into the building.

Barbara Appelbaum
Appelbaum and Himmelstein
444 Central Park West
New York, NY  10025
212-666-4630


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 23:21
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Received on Monday, 7 December, 2009

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