While those of us in the conservation department are working from home, we are finding comfort in our family heirlooms and treasures—many of which require our attention. Like so many around the country, we are finally taking the time to clean out our closets, sort through our attics, and look through our family albums. While we all turn to our family treasures for comfort during these trying times, the conservation department would like to share tips on ways to care for your personal collections.
Each week a different student from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation will address ways to care for the collections in your cupboards. Last week’s post focused on personal library collections. This week’s post looks at pest management and was written by Marie Desrochers, a second-year Fellow in Preventive Conservation.
Pests and Preventive Conservation
Since the beginning of time, humans have lived alongside tiny friends with six, eight, and even multiple hundred legs. While we are all staying in our homes, we may have noticed their presence more than usual. Insects, spiders, centipedes, and mice are all examples of small critters that are essential to the delicate balance of life in our greater biosphere. That said, it is typically preferable to NOT find these friends in our homes. Often referred to as “pests” within the context of interior spaces, these industrious neighbors can easily destroy objects we treasure. In art conservation, we employ a system known as “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) to manage the risk that pests can pose for collections. IPM utilizes careful observation and monitoring to avoid, block, and detect pests. It is a preventive method of control that is cost effective, minimizes the use of toxic chemicals, and can be applied anywhere from major museums to your own home.