Storage is as important as treatment

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

dessicant bagThe objects we have received since the flood span a wide range of materials. Since we couldn’t work on everything immediately, one of the first things we had to address was proper storage. The wooden objects were set out to dry as were the baskets and miscellaneous plastic, ceramic, glass items. The metals however presented a problem. They were rusting and since we weren’t able to get to them immediately we needed to arrest the deterioration somehow.

After doing some research and consulting with Steve Stenstrom, an objects conservator, we bought large plastic tubs in which we could create a micro-environment for the metal objects. This allowed us more control over the condition of their surroundings. We put packages of plastic tub with metal objects and dessicants dessicant in the tubs with the metals to absorb any moisture which might contribute to the deterioration of the metal. The dessicant packets were switched out periodically and we were able to slow the process of rusting until we had a chance to stabilize the objects.

The items in the tub to the left are already cleaned and waiting to go back home to the African American Museum of Iowa.