Stories From Banting’s Basement: Week 8

Hello! This week I spent most of my time cleaning the collections storage area in preparation for more material. This included finding new ways to organize the collection that both saves space and is logical for future research.  

For today’s post I wanted to discuss what happens after a collection is in storage. As I mentioned last week, the archival material in the Teddy Ryder Collection is now in our collection storage. When a collection is in storage, museums need to complete a series of measures to prevent further damage. This is called preventative conservation

One example of these measures at Banting House is light control. Light can be damaging for objects in our collection, so when an object is on exhibition it is important to monitor the level of light and the amount of time it is exposed to it. An example where this is practiced is in the bedroom. You may have noticed that the light in the room is dim and only turned up for photographs. This is because if the wallpaper is exposed to light for a long period of time, it can cause damage, and unfortunately this damage is irreversible. As for collections in storage such as the archival material in the Teddy Ryder Collection, they are kept in the dark and only exposed to light when accessing the material.

Banting House National Historic Site of Canada

Another example of a preventative conservation measure practiced at Banting House is dusting. It is important to dust regularly as pollutants can be absorbed in the object and cause damage. It is also important what you dust with. For example, on wood objects (such as the Liberty Stone Blocks shown below), one would not use a cloth as shards of wood could either get caught causing further damage or leave remnants in the shards. In this case, it would be best to use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dust. A cloth would most likely be used to remove dust around the archival material in the Teddy Ryder Collection.

Banting House National Historic Site of Canada

The first two measures focus on preventing physical damage to the material. However, museums are also responsible for preventing damage to the intellectual property of the object. This means preserving the story that the object holds. This is done by cataloguing the object. Without cataloguing, there is the potential for the story of the object and any other relevant information to be lost. For example, on exhibit is the Teddy Ryder’s “Oliver Twist” outfit. Attached to this object is an accession number. When that accession number is looked up in our database, you can determine what it is, when it was donated and by whom, and if the museum has any knowledge of the story it tells. Without the accession number and documentation, it would be easy to lose this information. To prevent the loss of information, Banting House also keeps accession files that provide donation and object information. For example, shown below is a sheet from the Teddy Ryder Collection that is kept in the accession file so in the future someone can determine exactly what is in the collection.  

Banting House National Historic Site of Canada

These are just brief descriptions of some of the preventative conservation measures completed at Banting House.

Again, I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what goes on “behind-the-scenes” of a museum. See you next week! 

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