Control of Biodeterioration Newsletter

No. 1, January 1994

Working Group 21

ICOM Committee for Conservation

Report of the 10th Triennial Meeting

The 10th triennial meeting in Washington, D.C. was a rousing success in terms of the interest and attendance at the working group sessions.

The control of biodeterioration working group meeting was standing room only. The session was run with an attempt to encourage audience participation via comments and questions rather than in a straight lecture-type setting. The format did encourage animated discussion, particularly when the chair, myself, made certain statements against the use of any insect control treatment other than suffocation with inert gases. Our new assistant coordinator, Tom Strang, from the Canadian Conservation Institute, was quick to point out the promise of temperature as a means of control for insects, under selected conditions. Agnes Brokerhof, from The Central Research Laboratory, The Netherlands , also an advocate of freezing temperatures to control insects, did feel that use of inert gas treatment may indeed be the safest technique for art objects, but that freezing may still have a significant role to play under defined conditions. The discussion, albeit staged a bit, we hope served to inform the attendees of some of the relevant issues surrounding the application of any insect control treatment for museum quality objects.

All of the issues are related to understanding the risk-benefit relationship for each treatment relative to the art object in question. In general, one needs to use extreme care in altering the environmental conditions surrounding an object, restrict the use of any active chemical toxin, and test whenever, possible, the treatment on similar materials before applying a treatment reputed to be safe.

For insect control, the use of anoxic treatment represents the safest method currently available for insect control on any museum object. It is used as standard practice now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, generally with argon gas as the suffocant. List of working group control of biodeterioration papers at ICOM 10th Triennial

The other major topic at the ICOM biodeterioration WG meeting related to viability of fungi. In short, if fungal-infected material is dried, cleaned with vacuum (HEPA type filter), and then stored at 50-60% RH and constant museum temperature there is little chance for most fungal spores to germinate. This seems to be due to the fact that the spores will not enter dormancy. If spores are frozen and dried, they may enter a dormant state and thus be potentially viable years latter.

Papers presented at the session, and published in the proceedings were:

Conidial Fungi (Mould) Activity on Artifact Materials--A New Look at Prevention, Control, and Eradication, M.-L. Florian

An Evaluation of Biocides for Control of the Biodeterioration of Artifact at Hearst Castle, T. Frey, J. von Reis, and Z. Barov.

Insect Eradication Using Controlled Atmospheres and FTIR Measurement for Insect Activity, R.J. Koestler

Nitrogen Fumigation: A Viable Alternative, V. Daniel, S. Mackawa, F.D. Preusser, and G. Hanlon.

Study of Factors Facilitating the Loss of Viability of Microscopic Fungi in Library and Museum Collections, N.L. Rebrikova and N.V. Manturovskaya

Change in Coordinator for WG21

At the business meeting for our working group during the Washington, D.C. conference, a new coordinator was elected, Dr. Robert J. Koestler, Research Scientist for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (MMA) Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation. Bobs training is in biology (cell and marine). He has been at the MMA for about 13 years, before that he was at the American Museum of Natural History, also in New York. Many of these years he ran a scanning electron microscope laboratory and has carried out numerous studies, biological and material science, in the conservation field. His most recent projects have involved the safest means of controlling insect and fungal infestations in art objects. He is also an editor for the journal International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation from Elsevier Applied Sciences.

As new coordinator, my first task is to thank our previous coordinator Mr. Alan Postlethwaithe of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Washington, D.C., for the years of service to our group and in particular for his extensive efforts in making the 10th triennial meeting such a success. We wish you well in your future endeavors Alan.

I would also like to welcome our new and continuing assistant coordinators. Joining us is Mr. Thomas Strang, Conservation Scientist, Environment and Deterioration Research, Canadian Conservation Institute. Tom has undertaken extensive studies in not only preventive conservation but also in remedial procedures and techniques to control biodeterioration once the preventive procedures fail. He has worked for CCI for 7 years.

Continuing on as assistant coordinator is Dr. Hideo Arai, Tokyo Research Institute of Cultural Property. Hideo has published numerous studies on microbiological attack of materials. In particular, he has advanced the debate about the cause of foxing on papers by producing some convincing microbiological work that demonstrates the ability of fungi to produce the foxing-type stains on paper.

Future Group Emphasis

Over the next 3 years the biodeterioration working group plans to continue to focus on the issue of control of biodeterioration. This includes control of insects and control of microbes. The goal is to encourage members to offer scientific evidence for the benefits and especially the risks associated with the currently in vogue techniques. For insect control this means anoxic and temperature alterations. For microbial control this means assessment of biocide types available. If any member would like to provide a short review of any of these topic areas we would attempt to include it in a future newsletter.

Over the course of the next 3 years I would like to organize a mini-symposium, perhaps in conjunction with the International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Society and a local New York university to explore some of the issues related to biodeterioration. One area in particular has to do with evaluation of the rates of attack of microorganisms as compared to other forms of attack, e.g., chemical and mechanical. When does biodeterioration become a significant enough factor to spend scare conservation moneys on? Members thoughts and suggests are solicited.

General Information on WG 21

To become a member of the biodeterioration working group send your name and address to the coordinator. Members may submit biodeterioration-related comments, meeting notices, short reviews, etc. for inclusion in forthcoming newsletters.

CONSERVATION DISCUSSION GROUP ON THE INTERNET

For those with access to the Internet there is a discussion group with weekly mailing available from:
consdist-request@lindy.stanford.edu

Announcements of Meetings/Courses

29 June-1 July 1993 - Paris, France

International RILEM\UNESCO Congress. List of biological papers is attached at the end of this newsletter.

22-23 October 1994 - Boston, Massachusetts USA

Pest, Insect, & Fungus Management Non-Toxic Fumigation & Alternative Control Techniques for Preserving Cultural/Historic properties & Collections, sponsored by Technology & Conservation of Art, Architecture, and Antiquities. . (Contact Susan E. Schur, Conference Co-Organizer & Publisher-Editor, T & C, One Emerson Place, Boston, MA 02114, Tel: 617-227-8581. ) Preliminary program is noted below (Preliminary list indicates 15 guest speakers).

Overview of fumigation and other control methods: Past techniques--Their effectiveness and their problems, and introduction to new procedures.

11-15 April 1994 - La Habana, Cuba Deadline for abstract February 28 '94

2nd International Congerence on Cultural Heritage: Context and Conservation Centro, Nacional de Conservacion, Restauracion y Museologia Convento de Santa Clara, Calle Cuba No. 610 entre Sol y Luz, La Habana Vieja, 10100, Cuba

16-20 May 1994 - Paris, France

Second ARSAG International Symposium on Environment and Conservation of Graphic, Photographic and Audiovisual Documents, Institut de Monde Arabe Paris, (address: 36, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire 75005 PARIS; Tel: 45 87 06 12, Fax: 47 07 62 95, Francoise Fleider or Sibylle Monod.) List of biodeterioration-related only papers is noted below:

24-27 June 1994 - Venice, Italy 3rd Int'l Symposium on the Conservation of Monuments in the Meditarranean Basin.

Dr. Vasco Fassina,
Congress Secretary
Laboratorio Scientifico della Misericordia
Cannaregio 3553
30131 Venice, Italy

12-16 September 1994 - Ottawa, Canada

IIC Congress Preventive Conservation: Practice, Theory and Research (There will be a session related to insect control) IIC

6 Buckingham Street
London WC2N 6BA, UK

1-8 July 1995 - Stavanger, Norway

17th General Conference of ICOM Museums and the Community

ICOM 1995,
Arkeologisk museum i Stavanger
P.O.Box 478

4-7 July 1995, Bangkok, Thailand.

3rd International Conference on Biodeterioration of Cultural Property (ICBCP-3) Hilton International Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. Papers are due by February, 1995., in English. (Contact: Secretariat of ICBCP-3 before March 30, 1994 at Conservation Sub-Division, Division of National Museums, Na Phra That Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand, Tel & Fax. No. (662) 224-1352.)

Courses on various topics related to biodeterioration of cultural property are also given by the following organizations in the USA.

Training Secretary
CAL MSC MRC-534
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C. 20560
tel 301-238-3700

(Conservation Analytical Laboratory training courses; in May 1994 a "Pest Control with Emphasis on Inert Gas Fumigation" C412 will be offered)

The Training Program
The Getty Conservation Institute
4503 Glencoe Avenue
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
tel 310-822-2299
fax 310-821-9409

(a "Pest Management and Control for Museums" course will be offered for April, 1994)

Other places that may offer courses are local historical societies, e.g., in the New York City, NY, USA area: Historic House Trust of New York City

The Arsenal
Room 203
Central Park
New York, NY 10021
tel 212-360-8183
fax 212-360-1329

Proposed Merger of WG21 with WG12

At the ICOM meeting in Washington, D.C., a proposal was put forward by the new Preventive Conservation Working Group Assistant Coordinator, Sarah Staniforth, and picked up by the ICOM Directory Board members that would impact significantly upon our working group. That proposal was to merge Preventive Conservation with Control of Biodeterioration working groups. The reasons stated by the Board seemed to have something to do with their feeling that their were too many groups at the triennial meetings and not enough time for working group meetings.

My initial and continuing reaction is completely negative. The function of the working group Control of Biodeterioration has been and continues to be, as long as I am coordinator, what to do once biodeterioration has happened to a collection or object. Included within this are all manner of organisms, from microbial to insect to higher mammals, and consideration of mechanisms of attack in addition to methods to eradicate the attack. The actual discussion of prevention of a biological attack has, if mentioned at all, been a footnote to the above mentioned areas.

I have been requested by the Directory Board to solicit the opinions of my group membership. Please send in your thoughts on the matter to me at the following address:

Robert J. Koestler
Coordinator
ICOM WG 21
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Sherman Fairchild Center
for Objects Conservation
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028-0198

tel 1-212-570-3858
fax 1-212-570-3859
Internet
rtkcc@cunyvm.cuny.edu

Please complete the following form and return to the Coordinator:

I would like to receive the ICOM-CC WG Biodeterioration
Newsletter        yes


I am a member of ICOM         yes       no


NAME  (First - Last):
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INSTITUTION:
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DEPARTMENT:
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ADDRESS:
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CITY (& State and Zip
Code):...............................................................



COUNTRY:
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FAX :  ......................................
PHONE:.................................
INTERNET
ADDRESS:......................................................
_______________________________________________________

Do you think that the Biodeterioration WG should merge with
the Preventive Conservation WG?    yes     no

Reason(s):




Would you be interested in participating in a
seminar/workshop on rates of attack of
biodeterioration versus chemical and mechanical?       yes    no


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