STORAGE SUPPORTS FOR A BASKET COLLECTION: A PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION APPROACH
THE SUPPORTS DISCUSSED in this paper were developed in an effort to stabilize a research collection of 1300 American Indian baskets at the University of California at Davis. The supports were designed primarily to relieve stress of long term storage on weakened baskets. In addition, the supports incorporate features which minimize the adverse effects of specimen handling by researchers.
Conservation work took place in two segments, each of approximately one year's duration, over a four year period. This time lapse has made it possible to evaluate the appropriateness of various supports designed during the first conservation period. This paper will reflect the lessons learned.
The initial condition survey of the collection led to the conclusion that, in view of the limited time and funds available, a preventive conservation approach was desirable. It was decided that improvement of the physical storage condition of all baskets would be of greater benefit to the collection than conventional treatment of a small number of specimens.
The main criteria established for this project were:
- to store baskets in their original position of use whenever possible because their inherent engineering is often the best guide for proper storage position;
- to identify the strongest portions of the basket and to design supports which take advantage of those areas;
- to allow visual access to important technical and decorative features of the basket;
- to facilitate handing, access, and easy replacement of the basket on the shelves; and
- to use archivally sound materials.
As the collection under discussion is used solely for research purposes, individual boxes, legibly numbered are considered a prerequisite to minimize handling of the baskets. All specialized supports are designed to be an integral part of this box. (For the sake of simplicity all cardboard containers for baskets will be called boxes, despite the fact that they have no tops and may have very low sides.) Students and volunteers were recruited to construct boxes and storage supports under the supervision of the conservator.