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Collections Care by Type

Collection objects come in all different shapes, sizes, and material types. Knowing how best to care for objects of different material types is important for overall collections management. The following resources were compiled from organizations throughout the nonprofit and museum sector. AAM reviewed and approved each one based on the organization’s authority and expertise and the resource’s usefulness related to the topic. Clicking the links below will take you off the AAM website.

Books and Paper

Handling Paper Artifacts Preservation Do’s and Don’ts

The Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education shares a chart with paper preservation do’s and don’ts. (PDF, 3 pages)

Humidification and Flattening of Documents

The Missouri Secretary of State provides a technical leaflet that focuses on humidification and flattening of documents. It details the procedures and includes illustrations.

Preservation of Photos, Documents, and Papers developed this resource to help museum staff, librarians, historians, and individuals understand how papers deteriorate over time.

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Contemporary Art

Time-Based Media Art at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian shares information and resources related to time-based media and digital art, which includes artworks with technology-based components that present specific challenges for conservation, documentation, installation, and acquisition.

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Discs, Tapes and Cylinders

Proper Care and Handling of Audio Visual Materials

The Library of Congress has a fact sheet on the care of sound recordings, including those on wax cylinders, vinyl, tape, and CD. It discusses handling, storage, and cleaning. It also includes a bibliography and a list of suppliers.

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Sustaining Places offers detailed steps museums can take to care for firearms in their collections, from accessioning to handling and storing. This page also provides links to resources for researching firearms, displaying, and ensuring the safety of staff and visitors.

Lock, Stock and Barrel: Firearms Collecting for Museums

This recorded webinar from the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) looks at laws that govern firearms and how museums can ensure they are legally obtaining, storing, and exhibiting weapons.

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Historic Vessels

Conserving Historic Vessels

This 7-page pdf summarises the conservation principles set down in the National Historic Ships UK (NHSUK) guidance manual Conserving Historic Vessels, giving examples of each different approach and the differing impact on a vessel’s significance.

Recording Historic Vessels

The United Kingdom’s National Historic Ships association provides this 43-page pdf on understanding historic vessels and how to best care and record these unique collections.

Third International Conference on the Technical Aspects of the Preservation of Historic Vessels

The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association shares the proceedings from the Third International Conference on the Technical Aspects of the Preservation of Historic Vessels. More than 50 papers can be accessed from this introductory page.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects

The Historic Naval Ships Association provides the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects. The manual offers guidelines for applying the standards in the acquisition, protection, documentation, stabilization, preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of historic vessels.

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Care of Machinery Artifacts Displayed or Stored Outside

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) issued Note 15/2 which focuses primarily on preventing sensitive elements of machinery-related artifacts from deteriorating. Preservation efforts concentrate on providing and maintaining minimally protective environments.

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Creating A Microclimate Box for Metal Storage

This Conserve O’ Gram from the National Park Service (NPS) has detailed instructions for creating a microclimate box for metal storage and includes a bibliography of reference books. (PDF, 3 pages)

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Preservation Leaflets

This set of technical leaflets from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) focuses on the care and preservation of photographic materials.

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Connecting to Collections

The Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) has a number of recorded webinars on preserving textiles. All webinars are presented by experts in the care and handling of historic textiles.

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