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
The success of the National Museum of the American Indian Move Project was due largely to preventive conservation strategies, control of variables, and flexibility on the part of staff and management. Early planning ensured that a sound structure of preventive conservation procedures and guidelines became universally ingrained in day-to-day work. In turn this allowed the team the flexibility to meet new challenges without compromising the safety of the objects.
Conservators found that interventive treatments were needed on a relatively small number of objects and that stabilization treatments required for transit were fewer and less complex than expected. Many of the condition problems that had been expected to need treatment were instead dealt with through creative packing solutions. This allowed the Move to proceed rapidly without compromising the safety of the objects.
Communication between the two ends of the Move, the shipping end at the Research Branch in the Bronx, New York, and the receiving end at the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, was crucial. Procedures were refined throughout the project as staff learned through experience, and many innovations were instituted thanks to the creativity and dedication of the staff. Open communication ensured that problems were dealt with quickly, and resulted in the most efficient practices and safest environment for the objects. Good communication throughout the project ensured that preventive conservation strategies remained central to everyone's work in this multifaceted project.
The authors wish to express their gratitude and appreciation to the dedicated and talented staff of the Move team, too many to mention in one paragraph, in New York and Maryland over the entire course of the project. Thanks are also due to NMAI Management: Scott Merritt, Move Manager in New York, Patricia Nietfeld, Supervisory Collections Manager in Maryland, and Marian Kaminitz, Head of Conservation in Maryland.