Welcome to module 8

Learning Objectives


Module 8 will introduce students to the concept of preventive conservation.

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between preservation and restoration
  • List at least three agents of deterioration
  • Describe at least one ethical tenet of the field of conservation

lecture THEMES

Basic concepts of preventive conservation – cultural collections

Preventive conservation, or preventive care, are all those steps taken by collections care professionals to slow the natural degradation of collections in our care. Angela Linn introduces and explains the effects of the agents of deterioration in this introductory video. (21:51)

caring for film collections

Motion picture film requires specialized care and storage in order to slow deterioration. In this video, Angela Schmidt explains how films are handled and brought into collections at the Alaska Film Archives at UAF, and demonstrates measures that are taken to ensure that films are kept safe, cool and dry. (9:51)

natural history collection preparation and preservation

Jack Withrow, UAMN Ornithology Collection Manager, focuses on the preparation of bird specimens for long-term curation. (12.22)

Herbarium mounts and Pollutants in museum collections

Steffi Ickert-Bond introduces the life of plant specimens from the field to the cabinet and focusses on different mounting techniques and archival materials used in the herbarium, and touches briefly on some commonly encountered contaminants and issues with improper storage and handling of specimens. (13.17)


Preventive conservation is a hands-on form of museum work and has it’s own special shared terminology. Learn these words to better understand the tasks and special concerns in this area.

  1. Conservation
  2. Restoration
  3. Reversibility
  4. Agents of Deterioration
  5. Relative Humidity
  6. Integrated Pest Management System
  7. Preservation
  8. Condition Report
  9. Archival quality
  10. Preventive Care
  11. Mercuric chloride
  12. Vinegar Syndrome
  13. Sticky Shed Syndrome

Activities / Assignments

Reading / Video content



Preventive Conservation – Guidelines for Collections (1:34)

IMLS Connecting to Collections – A Call to Action (4:22)

CCI – Monitoring Your Environment (5:33)

Sustainable Management of Collection Environments – IPI’s Perspective (3:13)

MOMA’s Race to Preserve Classic Films’ Sights and Sounds (5:03)

The Living Archive – Preservation Challenge (6:43)

Preserving Old Audio and Video Formats (8:09)



For Exploration:


Log into our course shell in Canvas and go to ‘Quizzes’ on the left side menu.

Take ‘Quiz 8’: Preventive Conservation. You will have up to three attempts to match the vocabulary and definitions. Click over to Canvas to take quiz 8.

Meet Up

Time to get together! This is optional but highly encouraged. We will meet via Zoom at 12:30 pm (AKST) on Friday March 10. The link to the session can be found in this Google Document (you must be part of the class to view the document). If you are unable to join the meeting will be recorded and you will be expected to review the recording prior to writing your discussion post (see below).

Assignment – Discussion

Consider the different ways you might stabilize and preserve a pair of objects – a Russian muzzleloader found in Southeast Alaska vs. a lynx donated by a local trapper; a historic film on 8mm vs. a group of stone tools found along a riverbank in the Brooks Range; or a fireweed plant collected in a Southcentral field vs. a northern pike collected in a local lake. Think about which various agents of deterioration might affect them most dramatically, and what steps you can take to protect them. Find resources online that might provide guidance.

  1. Create a new post on this website and answer this question based on your personal experience. Your post should be roughly 500 words and should include an image. Think about reading and video material from this week and personal experiences you have had to help illustrate your ideas.
  2. At the end of your post, include a question for your fellow students to answer.
  3. Respond to each others’ posts (you will need to respond to/comment on at least two other posts).
  4. Select “8. Preventive Conservation” from the list of discussion categories on the right hand side of your posting window on the dashboard.

Looking Forward

Next week we’ll look at data in museums – the creation, preservation, management, and sharing of data.

Did you know?

Fun tidbit not to be tested on.

The Linnaeus Garden in Uppsala, Sweden, founded in 1655, is Sweden’s oldest botanic garden. Following its near total destruction in the 1702 great Uppsala fire, Carl Linnaeus transformed it into one of the foremost gardens in the world. His home, adjacent to the gardens, holds collections that illustrate the pioneering work of the early scientist. — Source