Building a preservation policy

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A preservation policy is an essential component of a collections management framework, regardless of the size of the collection or organisation. It sets out an organisation’s approach to preservation, addressing the questions of what needs to be preserved, why, for what purpose, and for how long. The policy clarifies the responsibilities of all concerned, staff, […]

Screen Heritage UK Moving Image Collections handbook

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All over the UK, archives, museums, charities, universities, libraries and arts centres have been carefully storing film and video charting their own and their communities’ pasts. From public document to home movie, extravagant fictions to reportage, this material is a precious and priceless store of historical detail, social understanding and powerful connections to other times, […]

Geological collections - a guide to standards in their preservation and care

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Geological collections contain a wealth of information. Their scientific interest embraces the history of the whole of plant and animal life in the form of fossils, the planet Earth as rocks and minerals, a wide range of physical materials and chemicals, and the history of science through collections as entities and their associated archives. Museums […]

Part of: Conserving

Furniture care and handling

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Understanding and dealing with the causes of damage to furniture and wooden objects are well within the abilities of nearly all caretakers of valued wooden objects, whether a collections manager at a major museum or an individual safeguarding family heirlooms. This booklet from the Smithsonian Institute outlines information about caring for and preventing damage to […]

Caring for your ceramics

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Ceramics include all objects made from clay which are shaped when wet and hardened by heating (firing). Fired clay has been used to create both functional and decorative objects since prehistoric times. One of the most common causes of damage to historic ceramics is rough or careless handling. This resource from the V&A contains information and […]

Military wall art: Guidelines on its significance, conservation and management

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Military wall art appears throughout the United Kingdom, on or within buildings that are or once were in military use. Surviving works include murals, pencil sketches, stencils, instructional drawings, signage and simple graffiti, and incorporate both sanctioned and less official forms of decoration. Whatever the circumstances of its location, the management needs of wall art […]

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Preparing fossils at the American Museum of Natural History

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Fossil preparators are highly skilled technicians who restore the naturally fractured bones and teeth of fossil to the original state, somewhat like art conservators restore damaged paintings and sculptures. When fossils arrive from the field, they are encased in plaster jackets, and the rock, or matrix, which was deposited around the fossils. Fossil preparation involves […]

Image bank of degraded plastic artefacts

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This resource from The Arts University College at Bournemouth provides images of a range of plastics degrading for different reasons and in different ways. Clicking the link on this page will allow you to download this resource as a DOC file.

Part of: Conserving

Making the most of your plastics

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Plastics have infiltrated almost everything to do with life and living from aviation to zip fasteners. They are found in art and design, social history and technological collections and are also among the ethnographic materials of the 20th century. This resource aims to help people with plastics in their care make the most of them. […]

Standards in the museum curation of musical instruments

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This publication, published by MLA, outlines a basis for custodianship and conservation of musical instruments in museum collections. It describes standards for the care of musical instruments, covering standards for procedures, collection care and maintenance, building management, access and education. Clicking the link on this page will allow you to download this resource as a PDF.

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An illustrated guide to the care of costume and textile collections

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This guide from the Museums & Galleries Commission is for anyone who works with costume and textile collections in museums. It will be especially useful for those who are not specialists in costume and textiles, but who find themselves responsible for, or are regularly involved with, their day-to-day care. Clicking the link on this page will […]

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Caring for metal collections in museums

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Metal could appear in your museum collections in any number of forms. Anything from medieval weapons to technological innovations could be made predominantly from metal. Whether your collections are numismatic, military or scientific, you probably have metal in your collection. It is essential to care appropriately for metals in your collections to protect them degradation […]

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Practical conservation guidelines for successful hospitality events in historic houses

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In seeking to make historic houses economically sustainable, many owners and managers are now using them to stage commercial hospitality events.The pressures of such events on fragile historic interiors can be enormous. English Heritage, which exists to promote the care and understanding of the historic environment, has produced this publication to give practical guidance on […]

Preventive conservation

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Preventive conservation supports a museum’s primary purpose to ensure that its collections are available for current and future generations. The benefits of preventive conservation will only be seen in the long-term, however they need to be planned, financed and executed to provide the best possible care at the present time. It should involve everyone that […]

Part of: Conserving

Preservation of records: Preservation policy

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Preservation is a core function of any record office. It is central to a record office’s role as guardians of archival heritage. Preservation helps to ensure that all of us have an equal opportunity to see and enjoy unique and important records. In this leaflet, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland outlines common standards for […]

Preservation of records: Code of practice for the mechanical cleaning of records

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Archival records can be difficult to clean, either due to their delicate condition or the fragility of inks and pigments. Consequently, care must be taken when carrying out this treatment to avoid further damage or loss of information. This resource from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland outlines their code of practice for the mechanical cleaning […]

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Caring for paintings and frames in museums

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Paintings are some of the most precious items in museum and gallery collections and should be treated with care and respect. Whether it’s a medieval altarpiece, impressionist masterwork or quirky modernist canvas, every painting requires a plan of care. Equally important are the frames that hold these paintings. Many frames come with a unique history and […]

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Caring for paper collections in museums

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Paper appears in museums and galleries in many ways, perhaps in the form of an ancient manuscript or a delicate watercolour painting. Paper could be stuck to other items or it could come in the form of a scroll or historic map. Given the proliferation of the material, museum managers and curators need to think […]

Part of: Conserving

Caring for textile collections in museums

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Textiles in museum collections vary enormously. They can be large and flat, for example banners and carpets, or small and three-dimensional like caps and purses, or all kinds of variations in between. They can be robust, and strong, or falling apart. This diversity can be very daunting, especially for those new to caring for textile […]

Part of: Conserving

Caring for photographic collections in museums

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Photographic material comes in many different forms. It ranges from rare prints and glass negatives produced during the pioneer days of early photography, to photo albums, 35mm slides, and bundles of colour snaps. Photographs might form an historical archive, or a fine art collection, or be part of the museum’s own records of its collection. […]

Caring for CDs and DVDs

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Libraries, archives and museums hold a range of hand-held, portable media used to store photographs, text, audio and audiovisual material, games and software as digital data. CDs (Compact discs) and DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs/Digital Video Discs) are probably the most common types of optical disc found in collections. They may have been acquired as manufactured […]

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Cleaning books and documents

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Keeping material clean prolongs its useful life. Surface dirt is evidence that crucial aspects of collection management are not being carried out effectively. Low use and lack of regular housekeeping may allow dust to accumulate in collections. Such evidence may be taken as a sign that the collection is little used and little valued, and […]

Part of: Conserving

Preservation of photographic material

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Photographs are housed in libraries, archives and museums all over the world. Whilst photographic conservation is a relatively new specialism and treatment options are often limited, it is usually possible to prolong the life of a photograph through good preservation practices in handling, housekeeping and storage. This booklet from the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre describes […]

Preparing funding applications for preservation and conservation projects

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Competition for funding has never been greater with the result that funders are looking for excellence in projects and well-crafted, compelling applications. The guidance offered here is designed to help you make the most of the opportunities available to support the preservation and conservation of library and archive collections and to develop excellent applications for […]

Managing the preservation of library and archive collections in historic buildings

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This leaflet from the National Preservation Office, now the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre, aims to help librarians and archivists working in a historic setting to manage preservation projects and achieve results. It focuses mainly on the environmental problems common in historic buildings and outlines ways of tackling these which have been distilled from research […]

Understanding and caring for bookbindings

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All bookbindings, however unspectacular they may look, are potentially of interest to historians of the book and cultural historians. Vast quantities of evidence about the ways in which books were sold and circulated in the past has been lost or compromised through the entirely well-intentioned repair work of previous generations, and some of the cheapest […]

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Working with independent conservators

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This publication from the Museums & Galleries Commission, now Arts Council England, outlines guidance for best practice in working with independent conservators. These guidelines are designed to help museums and other organisations to appoint, brief and work with independent conservators. This resource describes the stages in commissioning conservation work from an independent (private sector) conservator […]

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Larger & Working Objects - a guide to standards in their preservation and care

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A guide to museum standards in the preservation and care of larger and working objects in collections. Contents include: acquiring and building a collection documentation care and conservation access, loans and research working and moving objects environmental control and pest management safety and security disaster planning This resource is an updated version of the 1994 Standards […]

Glossary of conservation materials

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Handling, packing and moving museum objects is integral to the effective management of collections, and also areas in which damage often occurs. Archival quality tissue, card and board Acid free tissue and paper is used for wrapping, interleaving and buffering and is supplied in sheets and roles. It is available in different weights. Paper can be […]

Practical collections care: a syllabus

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SHARE Museums East, in collaboration with Collections Trust, have produced a syllabus that provides a framework for designing a practical course in the care of museum collections. The syllabus describes the activities which form the basis of curatorial knowledge and expertise in collections care and encourages a pragmatic approach. It can be used by anyone […]

Standards in the museum care of photographic collections

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Part of a series of ‘Standards in the Museum Care of Collections’ publications originally produced by the Museums and Galleries Commission between 1992 and 2004, this publication provides a comprehensive overview and recommended standards for the care, conservation, interpretation and use of photographic collections in museums. The standard features two sections ‘Managing Collections’, which looks […]

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Standards in the museum care of costume and textile collections

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Part of a series of ‘Standards in the Museum Care of Collections’ publications originally produced by the Museums and Galleries Commission between 1992 and 2004, this publication provides a comprehensive overview and recommended standards for the care, conservation, interpretation and use of costume & textile collections in museums. The standard features two sections ‘Managing Collections’, […]

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Standards in the museum care of biological collections

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Part of a series of ‘Standards in the Museum Care of Collections’ publications originally produced by the Museums and Galleries Commission between 1992 and 2004, this publication provides a comprehensive overview and recommended standards for the care, conservation, interpretation and use of biological collections in museums. The standard features two sections ‘Managing Collections’, which looks […]

Part of: Conserving

Standards in the museum care of archaeological collections

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Part of a series of ‘Standards in the Museum Care of Collections’ publications originally produced by the Museums and Galleries Commission in 1992, this publication provides a comprehensive overview and recommended standards for the care, conservation, interpretation and use of archaeological collections in museums. The standard features two sections ‘Managing Collections’, which looks at access, […]

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ICON, the Institute of Conservation

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This resource is related to the Accreditation Standard 2.6 Care and Conservation Plan, ‘The museum must have plans to help deliver improvements to collections care and conservation in line with the collections care and conservation policy.’ ICON, the Institute of Conservation, is the lead voice for the conservation of cultural heritage in the UK. It […]