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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 preventive conservation. This week’s post looks at recovering from water emergencies and was written by Maddie Cooper, a second-year Fellow in Preventive Conservation.
A grandmother’s wedding dress in the closet, a photographic album in the attic, or a box of baseball cards in the basement, these are all family treasures likely to be stored in hidden corners of our homes. While these spaces are convenient for storage, they can also put collections at risk to damage caused by leaks, floods, or mold growth. Whether caused by a major event like a storm, a fire, or a slow drip in the basement, these damages may be disheartening. However, it is important to know that you are not alone! There are steps you can take and support you can seek to salvage your heirlooms after a water-related emergency.
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Photographs submerged in dirty water should be carefully removed using a sheet of plastic to support the back, rinsed with clean water, and dried flat or by hanging from a line with plastic clothespins. (Images courtesy of Tram Vo and Debra Hess Norris.)
Damp books should be stood on end and fanned open. (Image courtesy of Melissa Tedone.)
Water emergencies can be extremely difficult to handle both physically and emotionally. Many members of the public throw away water-damaged materials in despair when they can be saved and cherished for generations to come. We hope these guidelines will prevent unnecessary loss of their family treasures.
We hope you've enjoyed this entry in our new series focused on caring for your family heirlooms. This series will continue throughout the summer and cover a variety of items and materials. If you have any comments on the series thus far, including materials you’d like to see covered in future posts, please email us at email@example.com.
You are in our hearts and minds as collectively we focus on saving lives. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. When we emerge from this global crisis we must and will rely on art and culture, preserved for today and for future generations, to foster joy, well-being and hope. We encourage you to visit our web site for regular updates on our department of art conservation and news coverage of our treasured students and alumni at home and abroad.