JAIC 2005, Volume 44, Number 3, Article 6 (pp. 217 to 232)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2005, Volume 44, Number 3, Article 6 (pp. 217 to 232)

INTEGRATING PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION INTO A COLLECTIONS MOVE AND REHOUSING PROJECT AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN

EMILY KAPLAN, LESLIE WILLIAMSON, RACHAEL PERKINS ARENSTEIN, ANGELA YVARRA MCGREW, & MARK FEITL



4 THE ROLE OF CONSERVATION IN THE MOVE PROJECT

Conservators worked during the planning stages of the project to establish preventive care policies and procedures. The goal was to integrate precautions into standard practices so that damage prevention was simply part of doing the job right. From the outset, conservators defined appropriate methods, materials, and techniques. This made it possible for the team to refine and streamline day-to-day work while following sound conservation guidelines. For the duration of the project, Conservation staff at both the Research Branch and the Cultural Resources Center served as a resource for:

  • information on materials and technology of collections objects
  • ongoing evaluation of move, packing, and storage systems
  • research on materials used for packing and storage
  • technical responses to collections-based hazards
  • handling guidelines and training for all NMAI staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors
  • documentation of any damage to collections objects and developing ways to mitigate potential damage


4.1 CONSERVATION ACTIVITIES AT THE RESEARCH BRANCH

The daily hands-on work of the Conservation staff at the Research Branch began with evaluating the stability of each object based on the potential for loss and damage during the move. Conservation staff then cleaned each object with a Nilfisk vacuum with variable suction and a HEPA filter to remove evidence of past insect activity, and to remove surface dust and dirt accumulated during storage which might otherwise be ground into the object's surface.

Vacuum cleaning also served to remove or reduce potentially hazardous surface contaminants such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and plaster dust from previous treatments or storage. Following cleaning, Conservation staff:

  • performed stabilization treatments as necessary
  • documented condition and stabilization treatments following standard museum conservation practice
  • assigned pest management systems for each object


4.2 CONSERVATION ACTIVITIES AT THE CULTURAL RESOURCES CENTER

Hands-on work for the Move Conservation staff at the Cultural Resources Center was less specific than that of the staff at the Research Branch. Each object did not go through the hands of a conservator. Instead conservators evaluated the condition of objects when they arrived at the Cultural Resources Center and throughout the rehousing and shelving process by maintaining a constant presence and working closely with staff.

Interventive treatment was minimal, consisting only of repairing some small damages when the object would be more safely housed if repaired, and minor stabilization treatments such as stabilizing a strand of loose beadwork. Objects with limited damage or other problems were documented and will remain in storage until they might become a priority for exhibit. Conservators supervised:

  • integrated pest management of all objects at the Cultural Resources Center
  • rehousing of all objects
  • research, testing, and selection of materials for long-term storage
  • object handling and movement


4.3 PLANNING AS PREVENTION

One of the primary roles of Conservation was to prevent move-related damage to the objects by establishing sound preventive care procedures. This included establishing appropriate handling, packing, and rehousing procedures and materials even before the first object was moved.

Given the nature of the collection, Conservation staff realized that handling during the move process would be the greatest potential cause of damage. In order for each department to do its work, the objects would need to be handled multiple times. From the beginning it was considered essential to put procedures in place to minimize handling and make necessary handling as safe as possible. While the preventive methods used varied at the Research Branch and the Cultural Resources Center, the commitment to putting object care first was always primary.

It was a tremendous asset to have staff with varied backgrounds and prior experiences. Carpenters, sculptors, artists, archaeologists, teachers, and textile artists as well as collections managers and conservators worked together to improve the efficiency, safety and quality of the systems and to continually integrate new ideas into the process.


4.3.1 Staff Training and Communication


4.3.1.1 Training

Conservators conducted mandatory, formal object handling training and periodic refresher sessions for all members of the Move team including contractors, volunteers, and interns. At the Cultural Resources Center this also included all museum staff who would be handling collections, whether for the Move or for other projects. The training sessions emphasized preventive measures, particularly safe movement of objects within the building using carts, lifting devices, and transit supports, along with how to physically handle objects. Training included an overview of the entire move process so that new staff could gain an understanding of the inevitable handling each object would receive.

The Conservation Department also worked to educate staff on object material identification and common deterioration problems, and to be aware of the potential for specific problems or conditions that could not be corrected with treatment during the Move. Examples include “glass disease” frequently found on glass trade beads, shredding common to cedar bark, weak old vegetable-tanned leathers, fragile weighted silks, waxy deposits on some plant materials, and some types of copper corrosion.


4.3.1.2 Communication

Good communication and asking questions were emphasized as important elements in preventing damage. Team members were instructed to alert a conservator immediately with any handling problems, questions about artifact materials or construction, pest management concerns, and damage or potential for damage. Communication between managers at the two facilities was also aided by the use of e-mail messages, often with explanatory digital photographs attached.

To assist communication between departments and facilities, conservators and packers at the Research Branch attached notes to crates, boxes, and objects to alert Conservation at the Cultural Resources Center to particular condition concerns, special packing, and new packing systems needing evaluation and documentation on unpacking.

Some notes addressed common or recurring condition and handling issues and were designed to remain with objects in long-term storage. These notes were laser printed on archival paper and placed in the storage mount with the object at the Cultural Resources Center. Examples included:

  • “Inherently fragile will have continued loss” designated objects, usually from the ethnology collection, that were inherently unstable (e. g., some corroded metals, cedar bark, slipping fur).
  • “Cleaned still frassy” designated objects that, although cleaned by Conservation, still had evidence of infestation. Such cases typically occurred when removal of frass would risk damage to the object or was too time-consuming to be completed during the move process.
  • “Not cleaned” designated objects that were not cleaned, such as those with extensive fatty bloom, those too unstable to be vacuumed, or those in sealed jars (e. g., beads).
  • “Fragile surface” designated objects, usually from the archaeology collection, with a fragile surface such as friable ceramic slip.
  • “Mobile crack” designated an object, usually a ceramic from the archaeology collection, with pre-existing cracks that flexed under minimal pressure.
  • “Loose material inside” designated an object, generally a ceramic from the archaeology collection, with loose material inside, often within the vessel legs.
  • “Failing old repair” designated an object, generally from the archaeology collection, with weak or failing areas of previous repair. Other notes were designed to enhance feedback or flag certain objects and were not kept with the object in storage. For example, bright orange labels associated with an object signaled that Registration staff would need to be notified when the object was unpacked. Notes on green paper written by Conservation staff alerted staff to handling and condition issues. Another type of note was written to request feedback about the condition of a specific object after freezing. These were written by Conservation staff at the Research Branch. When the object was unpacked at the Cultural Resources Center, Conservation staff would examine the item, note any condition issues, and send the note back to the Research Branch; in fact, no damage or condition change was seen in any of these cases.


4.3.1.3 Minimizing Handling During Move Procedures

At the Research Branch, object handling was minimized mainly by using support boards and trays designed and constructed to fit in modular fashion onto multi-tier rolling carts. Some of these systems have been described in detail elsewhere (Arenstein et al. 2003). By placing each object on a board many of the required steps could be accomplished with little or no direct manipulation of the object. The use of trays also facilitated keeping multiple objects together, and assisted in keeping loose barcodes associated with the correct object until they were packed. Die-cut polyethylene foam rings were useful as temporary supports for round bottom ceramics, and Tyvek and polyethylene foam sheet cut to standard sizes were useful lifting sheets for other objects.


4.3.1.4 Minimizing Handling During Rehousing and Storage

At the Cultural Resources Center, the storage areas were designed to be as accessible as possible within the limitations of a compactor storage unit system. An archival storage mount was constructed for each object. The intent was to make the supports safe, functional, unobtrusive, and aesthetically pleasing so that objects would not undergo unnecessary physical handling, and would be visible while still in the mount.

Cultural Resources Center staff were trained to inspect each object for any damage, weakness, or inherent instability before designing and constructing the storage mount. This brief examination assisted the staff in choosing the most appropriate materials and method of support construction. Storage supports are described in detail elsewhere (NMAI 2004). Materials used included standard museum supplies such as acid-free corrugated board, Coroplast, Tyvek, closed-cell polyethylene foam plank and cross-linked polyethylene foam sheet (NMAI 2004). Most threedimensional objects were stored in trays, which facilitated handling and contained any detached fragments.

Wherever possible, staff used custom die-cut Coroplast and archival paperboard trays, designed in standard sizes to fit the Cultural Resources Center shelving configurations. Many of the artifacts, however, required custom trays. These trays too were made with standardized design and construction (acid-free paperboard or Coroplast, fastened with hot-melt glue and/or nylon rivets) often in assembly-line fashion. Multiple objects of similar type and tribal affiliation were placed in a single tray, enabling the staff to reduce the amount of materials used and improve the efficiency of storage mount production.

The compactor storage units are thirteen feet high, requiring the use of mechanical lifts and ladders to shelve and retrieve objects. Most artifacts were stored in drawers in which any loose objects might shift. Three-dimensional objects therefore required foam blocking to keep them from shifting in storage. Tri-rod, a triangular extruded polyethylene foam backer rod, and Minicel, a cross-linked polyethylene foam plank, both have smooth cut surfaces and so proved especially time-efficient for blocking objects into storage supports.

Several types of objects did not lend themselves to placement in storage trays at the Cultural Resources Center but were still housed in standardized systems. For example, ceramics that did not have any loose elements or friable surfaces were placed on Coroplast pallets (rather than in a tray) and supported with foam wedges hot glued to the pallet. The majority of the textiles, basketry mats, and hides were rolled onto acid-free tubes and covered with Mylar, muslin, or Tyvek 1443R. Garments and textiles that could not be rolled for long-term storage were laid flat on a piece of Tyvek 1025D cut to fit the dimensions of the object, and stored flat or with as few folds as possible on a screen. Folds were padded out with backer rod.

Custom mounts were constructed for oversized objects such as watercraft and totem poles. Unlike the procedures used for most of the collection, the travel mounts for oversize artifacts were usually designed to serve as a storage mounts as well.


4.3.2 Limiting Transit Variables

A primary concern when a fragile object travels is protecting the object against a worst-case travel scenario. Every decision from the extent of stabilization to the design of packing and crating systems, is made with this concern in mind. The object must be able to withstand handling by untrained personnel, and the packing systems must be able to function well despite any number of variables, including the unforeseen. The key to the NMAI Move was strictly controlling the travel environment so that these variables were limited.

NMAI staff carried out the work on both the shipping and receiving ends, which meant that there was little need to vary procedures. As transit procedures and packing methods were designed specifically for the logistics of this particular move (NMAI 2004) systems could be mass-produced and standardized to maximize efficiency, control costs, and ensure safety for both objects and staff.


4.3.2.1 Transport

A truck trailer was leased for the duration of the project, and thus was under NMAI control at all times. This allowed staff to develop standardized packing and crating for the majority of the collection, assuring that proper packing, loading, and handling of the collection was achieved with the smallest possibility for error.


4.3.2.2 Controlling the Transit Environment

Since the crates were in a predictable and controlled setting at all times, climate control for the collection was predictable and easy to maintain. From the beginning, it was determined that when the objects were packed in boxes, sealed in plastic, then padded and loaded into the standard reusable polypropylene crates, they experienced only very slow and very gradual changes in temperature and relative humidity. The leased trailer had a new, wellmaintained reefer (temperature control) unit and airride suspension, and a controlled environment was maintained in the loading docks of both facilities. Hobo dataloggers were used on each truck shipment to verify the conditions to which the collection was subject and to constantly assess and refine packing to meet climate requirements. Shock bug dataloggers were used periodically to check the amount of shock a packed crate unit encountered during transit. The level of shock registered by normal packing systems was consistently low. This was due partially to the use of air-ride trailers, but mainly to good initial planning for the overall system.


4.3.3 Standardizing Packing and Crating Systems


4.3.3.1 Crating and Cushioning System

Since project staff had complete control over the various stages of transport and housing, the most logical approach for packing design was from the trailer load down to the object. The most efficient use of space in the trailer was a reusable modular system that fit within the dimensions of the trailer, thus reducing movement during shipping and facilitating easy loading and unloading. NMAI chose a reusable, stackable pallet crate system made by Kiva International. These standard-sized crates are made from molded polyethylene/polypropylene bases with lids made to latch to a 10mm corrugated folding sleeve. They are designed to lock together when stacked and can be easily moved in stacks with pallet jacks.

The padding system within the crates was designed to cushion to three specific load ranges that accommodated almost all of the collection: zero to 180 pounds, 180 to 400 pounds, and 400 to 1000 pounds. Research Branch Move staff constructed these cushioning panels by sandwiching polyurethane ester foam between two layers of corrugated polypropylene board. This gave a lightweight yet durable reusable cushioning platform on which to stack the packed boxes.

Inner boxes were ordered in nine custom sizes that could be stacked in different configurations to form a cube precisely fitting the interior of the Kiva unit. In order to withstand multiple re-use these boxes were made from durable 275 lb. double wall corrugated cardboard.

The packing systems were designed to address shock, vibration, the potential for changes in temperature and relative humidity, as well as the risk of any off-gassing from packing materials. Typically the objects remained packed for approximately three weeks during pest management, shipping, and sorting. The short turn-around time from packing to unpacking allowed for the use of standard, non-acidfree cardboard boxes, eliminating the need for a large investment in acid-free boxes.


4.3.3.2 Packing Methods

When staffing the project it was considered essential that the Assistant Move Coordinator for Collections at the Research Branch, who would be in charge of packing, be someone well versed in and committed to preventive conservation procedures. By sharing the responsibility for preventing harm to the objects, the Assistant Move Coordinator collaborated with Conservation staff to streamline and improve upon the procedures used throughout the life of the project.

Since the crating and trucking system minimized risks associated with the environment around the objects, the packers were freed to concentrate on the primary concerns of the artifacts themselves. A variety of standardized packing methods designed to isolate and/or stabilize the individual object within the inner box were developed to meet the needs of the majority of the collection. These systems are described in detail elsewhere (NMAI 2004). All of these systems relied on the reusable bottom and side cushioning panels placed between the packed boxes and the Kiva units, alleviating the need to provide individualized padding for each object.


4.3.3.3 Materials Recycling

Throughout the course of the project, packing and crating materials were recycled between the two facilities. Each truck loaded with artifacts for transport to Suitland was returned to the Bronx carrying reusable packing materials. This resulted in tight control over the conditions and quality of storage of the materials used in contact with the collection.


4.4 ENSURING PHYSICAL STABILITY OF OBJECTS

Any move usually has time and budget constraints which prohibit full conservation treatment of any but the neediest objects. In planning this Move, it was established that by limiting the transit variables, most minor stability issues could be addressed through packing and crating solutions, and thus, the need for interventive treatments to objects could be reduced. As a result NMAI was able to implement a tiered approach to stabilization treatment that minimized intervention in favor of noninvasive or preventive measures. Even with the best procedures and planning in place the collection was found to have numerous objects with either longstanding or inherent stability problems. In order to safely move these kinds of objects, conservators had to devise a plan to ensure that they arrived at their destination unchanged.


4.4.1 Reassessing Conservation Priorities During the Move

The pre-move conservation survey was used as the guide for conservation treatment. Once the Move began, the objects that had received a #1 designation, meaning that they required treatment prior to moving, were removed first from the storage vaults. The goal was to stabilize all the #1 priority objects from a particular storage location before the general move of that area started. (The order generally proceeded from geographic locale and then by culture group. )

It was instructive to see, however, that as the Move Conservation team worked through the list of objects that had been given #1 priority by the premove survey crew, a fair percentage were actually recategorized as stable to travel without any intervention, or able to be stabilized with a packing solution. Any savings in time this represented was offset by the significant number of objects that had to be added to the list to receive some sort of treatment. For the most part, these objects were not missed by the survey. Instead, some treatments were added because of damage from handling during the time between the survey and examination by conservators during the Move Project. Other treatments were added to the list because it became evident that predictable damage from handling occurred with certain condition problems. Where possible, stabilization treatment was performed to prevent this type of damage.

Overall, the lesson learned was that not all, but many condition problems could be stabilized through good packing, but that any additional or unnecessary handling of fragile objects posed real risks to object stability. In retrospect, the survey looked at the condition of the collection in a general sense. It would have been more helpful if it had been more focused on the kinds of condition problems that would be problematic in moving the collection, such as some types of basketry or other plant fiber objects, damaged featherwork, fragile surfaces, and fragile beadwork.


4.4.2 Scheduling Conservation Treatments

Artifacts were treated as minimally as possible to achieve stabilization for handling and moving; indepth treatments were done only as necessary.

Stabilization actions fell into three levels:

  • temporary preventive stabilization conducted at the cleaning station
  • minor stabilization treatment and documentation conducted at the cleaning station
  • stabilization treatment and documentation conducted in the Conservation Laboratory

The decision as to which objects would receive treatment and at what level were made by either the Assistant Move Coordinator or the Assistant Manager for Conservation at the Research Branch, often in discussion with the Assistant Move Coordinator for Conservation at the Cultural Resources Center. Communication between conservation managers at the two facilities was important in maintaining the workflow while maintaining confidence that objects were arriving safely at their destination. In addition to the condition of the object, time limitations and lab space were factors in deciding the appropriate level of treatment.


4.4.2.1 Temporary Preventive Stabilization

Temporary preventive stabilization was the preferred option. These treatments were not considered permanent, so were not entered into the conservation record, and it was assumed that Cultural Resources Center unpackers would remove Tyvek and Teflon tape unless instructed otherwise.

Whenever possible, objects were stabilized at the conservation/cleaning workstation and reintegrated into the move line immediately. Examples of temporary preventive stabilization include the use of cyclododecane on fragile ceramic surfaces, wrapping/binding loose elements with Teflon tape, stabilizing loose beadwork by tying off the end of a loose strand or securing the end of a loose strand with Teflon tape or white cotton thread, and wrapping with Tyvek.

Teflon tape was also used to bind a broken area that either could not be readhered or which would travel safely without a more invasive treatment. Teflon was also used to tie fringe or other multiple parts together to aid in safe handling. Where possible, the Photography Department staff took the digital image of such objects before the Teflon tape was applied in order to get the best photograph possible.


4.4.2.2 Minor Stabilization Treatment

If an object could not be protected from further loss or damage during handling and transit using preventive measures, interventive measures were used. Minor treatments were carried out at the conservation/cleaning station in a timely manner to keep objects moving with their associated groups. Examples of these types of treatments include using a drop of adhesive on loose beadwork that could not be tied off, rethreading beadwork, supporting broken feather rachii with a strip of toned Tyvek, and readhering small loose elements. Some repairs to basketry or plant fibers, using wheat starch paste and toned Japanese paper, were also conducted on the move line.

These treatments required a short written treatment report entered into the conservation database, and a digital image or drawing but usually no blackand-white or color slide film photography. The tools and materials required to conduct these treatments were kept at the workstations and the use of laptop computers and digital cameras sped the necessary documentation.


4.4.2.3 Treatments in the Conservation Laboratory

Stabilization treatments that required more time than could easily be integrated into the workflow at the cleaning station were moved to the Conservation Laboratory. Consideration was given to the amount of time the treatment required and the need to keep the object moving with the rest of its culture group. All such treatments received complete written and photographic documentation.


4.4.3 Preventing and Assessing Damage

Despite diligent preventive conservation systems and a fine staff, some damage to collections was considered inevitable with a move of this scale. When damage did occur during the move processes, conservators worked immediately with the staff involved to evaluate what went wrong and to institute changes to prevent similar damage from happening again.

Conservation staff documented 217 incidences of major and minor damage to objects during the Move, affecting less than 0. 03% of the objects overall. The number would be even less if instances of damage involving the failure of old repairs were excluded.

The vast majority of the damage was caused by handling, and virtually no damage resulted from packing and transport. Damage was documented with digital photographs and a damage report form created specifically for the Move Project. This data is stored in the NMAI Conservation Department at the Cultural Resources Center as hard copies and as electronic files, integrated into the department's standard (non-move) condition and treatment reports and digital image files.


4.5 INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT

It took considerable time and effort from all staff to coordinate sorting and packing objects based on designated pest treatment methods, and at the same time to keep complete culture groups moving together so they could be efficiently stored together at the Cultural Resources Center. However, the overall cost in time and materials was relatively low when compared to the potential damage to the collection and costs associated with treating an active widespread infestation later. In addition the museum could not afford a shutdown due to an infestation at the Cultural Resources Center because the objects moved from the Research Branch were needed for new exhibits, research, and programs as NMAI prepared for the opening of a new museum on the National Mall in Washington, D. C. in 2004.


4.5.1 Previous Infestations

The first step in the integrated pest management (IPM) treatment system took place at the Research Branch conservation station, where each object was inspected and old pest evidence such as webbing and casings was completely removed to prevent any confusion between prior and new pest activity. When full removal of evidence of an old infestation was not possible, a tag printed on archival paper was associated with the object, explaining that debris such as frass would still be present. This tag was placed with the object in storage at the Cultural Resources Center for future reference.


4.5.2 IPM Strategies

Five pest management strategies were used during the Move Project: freezing, carbon dioxide, Vikane, inspection, and bagging and monitoring. After objects were cleaned at the conservation workstation, conservators designated one of these pest management methods based on the material composition, condition, and construction of each object. Objects comprised entirely of inorganic materials such as stone and ceramic received no pest management beyond cleaning and visual inspection to ensure that there were no hidden infestations.

At the Research Branch, conservators associated a label indicating the appropriate pest management procedure with each object. In this way the needs of each artifact were communicated to the people working farther down the move line, as this affected each stage of the process at the Research Branch and the Cultural Resources Center.


4.5.2.1 Low Temperature

Freezing, or more accurately treatment with low temperature, which has been well described in the literature (Carrlee 2003) was the default pest management strategy for all organic materials. Approximately 55% of the collection was treated this way. An exact number is difficult to calculate because freezing, as the default treatment, could not be tracked in the same way other IPM treatments were tracked. NMAI conducted this treatment in accordance with the guidelines recommended by Strang (1992) who plotted temperature with time of exposure to create a graph of the “minimum lethal boundary” necessary to achieve full mortality of insect adults, larvae, pupae, and eggs. Each facility was equipped with a walk-in freezer capable of maintaining −25C or lower. During the Move the vast majority of the collection was frozen at the Research Branch. Packed boxes of objects were sealed in polyethylene sheet and frozen for one week. Boxes unloaded from the freezer were allowed to acclimate to room temperature overnight and were then packed directly into crates. The objects would not need to be handled again until they were unpacked.


4.5.2.2 Carbon Dioxide Gas

Objects that were too large to fit in either freezer, and those that could possibly be damaged by a low temperature environment and could not be easily inspected, were treated using a carbon dioxide gas (CO2) environment in a custom-built eight by eight by thirty foot sealed enclosure. Two hundred and seventy-six objects or 0. 03% of the collection received this form of treatment. This procedure and other anoxic environments have been well described in the literature (Burke 1996).

Due to space restrictions at the Research Branch, this treatment was carried out at the Cultural Resources Center. While safer for the objects vulnerable to low temperature, the carbon dioxide treatment had several drawbacks. First, it kept objects out of the work flow for up to three weeks as opposed to one week for freezing, and this meant more complex logistical coordination to keep objects from a given culture group together for shelving. The process was also more costly in terms of materials (nine to thirteen gas canisters per run) and labor, for it demanded more maintenance and monitoring by staff. Finally, the environment in the CO2 chamber undergoes a drop in relative humidity and unlike the sealed boxes placed in the freezer, boxes undergoing CO2 treatment were open, removing the protection of a microenvironment. To counteract fluctuations in humidity extra buffering material was added, and no damage was noted.


4.5.2.3 Vikane

Vikane, or sulfuryl fluoride, was used several times at the Research Branch over the five-year Move for objects such as totem poles and watercraft too large for either the freezer or the CO2

chamber. A total of 506 objects or 0. 06% of the collection were treated with Vikane. The fumigation was done in the trailer used for the regular shipments. A licensed operator sealed the trailer door with plastic and pumped the gas in through the drain. The gas must be flushed out at the end of the treatment with the aid of fans into the open air; thus, this treatment is best done during seasons with stable relative humidity. The treatment is also more appropriate for large or dense objects that react relatively slowly to unfavorable changes in the outdoor environment.

During the course of the Move Project it was imperative to plan ahead for these treatments in order to identify and prepare objects with appropriate crates or mounts and maximize the use of space in the trailer. For example, the truck trailer used for the watercraft and house-posts contained four levels of objects and the decking was fitted as it was loaded. Although the application of a Vikane treatment takes only one day, planning and preparation took several months.


4.5.2.4 Inspection and Bagging and Monitoring

Objects that might possibly be damaged by low temperature treatment were flagged at the Research Branch with a label for inspection by conservation upon unpacking. If the object appeared uncompromised, with no recent frass or insect-related damage, and thorough inspection was possible, it was identified as inspected and deemed pest-free. A total of 9, 762 objects or 1. 2% of the collection fell into this group.

If the condition was at all questionable, the object was placed in a sealed bag for monitoring over time. A total of 204 objects or almost 0. 03% of the collection were bagged and their condition monitored at the Cultural Resources Center. Because these treatments were tracked with barcode scanning, the registration database could periodically be searched for bagged objects and their respective locations in storage. As these numbers might suggest, as the Move progressed and staff became more familiar with object types and conditions and increasingly skilled at discerning which objects needed to be monitored, fewer items were bagged and more were simply inspected.

Pest management treatments were tracked by a system of barcodes and labels, described in detail in Williamson and Kaplan (2001). At the Cultural Resources Center, Registration staff created barcodes for each IPM treatment category so that the strategy used for each object could be quickly and easily entered into the collections database. In this way an ongoing record of CO2, Vikane, inspection, and bagging and monitoring treatments was created. However, it was necessary to reach a compromise between increased efficiency and complete documentation. Due to time constraints, it was not possible to scan barcodes for the vast majority of objects in the collection, which received the default pest management treatments of freezing for organic objects and inspection for inorganic objects. In the end, a combination of institutional memory and electronic data serve to record pest management strategies for individual objects.


Copyright 2005 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works