A Russian muzzleloader found in Southeast Alaska vs. a lynx donated by a local trapper



With this week’s topic and readings really opened my eyes to a lot of different things that I would never have thought about in the fact of what goes into museum and how it comes into museum and what is done with it to make sure that it is taken care of properly. I think before you even start out you need to have a good, structured plan before you accept any kind of collection into your museum. I chose to do a Russian muscle loader found in southeast Alaska versus a Lynx donated by a local trapper. Let’s first start with the musket. We need to have a plan before this arrives at the museum. Is this going to be a display item? Is this going to go into a collection that might not be seen for a while? There might be some differences in the way it is kept. First, we need to do is to inspect the item make sure that there’s no damage or rust or anything that might have an accord while shipping the item two the museum. Next after the inspection we might want to see if anything needs to be cleaned up or fixed if there’s any kind of damage. If there’s any kind of rust we’d want to try to remove that so that it doesn’t continue to rust and then also make sure that we are cleaning the muzzleloader appropriately with the right types of chemicals or solvents. We are also going to make sure that no pest has traveled with the item. Next, we have to look at how we are going to use this item in the museum. If it was going to be put into a display case in the museum, then we need to know what type of display case and how it will be displayed. This will involve things like lighting for the display, fire even humidity in the display or museum and theft prevention for the item.  The lynx will go thru the same process of looking at all the environmental conditions that could be associated with this animal. Inspection, then to the freezer for a while to make sur that there were no pest that were with the animal.  Once it’s done with this process and what the museum decides to do with this animal well, I think depend on the next step. Depending how this animal is going to be used in the museum will determine on what will be done with it. If it’s an abundance maybe can be turned over to another museum or two an indigenous tribe in the area. If it’s going to be used in a display, then you’ll have to go through the taxidermy process so that way it can be displayed. If it’s going to be just used and for bones or pelt that process will have to go through it will have to go through that process also which means stripping of the bones and using different processes to do that. Even though these things are two different items one was a living animal was one was not they still have very many similarities on how we would process this through a museum. Everything that comes to a museum is going to be processed with the care and the thought of where it’s supposed to go or displayed in the museum each of those things that are displayed in the museum for a certain reason have to go through their process is to get to that point. This means checking for biologicals, chemical, mechanical deterioration on the item. Making sure we understand where the item came from also is very important because of where it might have come from the environment there might be different, so we have to make sure we take that also into consideration. This process of bringing in items to museum has been a very interesting subject to learn this week. I knew that there was a lot of work that goes into museums, but I didn’t realize that there was a lot of different aspects that I didn’t know that went into putting a piece into a museum such as things that we take his granted like the lights or the temperature or maybe even thinking about people stealing items from a museum. Some of the resource I found important were from this week’s readings and also resource on the internet item like basic muzzleloader care and animal taxidermy.






Question: What is something that you learned this week in class that you might not have thought about or knew before with preventive conservation?



4 Thoughts to “DISCUSSION #8”

  1. Angela Linn

    Thanks Michael – this is a good pair for comparison because you have very different materials to consider. Most museums send specimens out to taxidermists, who are specialists in doing “live mounts” and these would only be used for exhibit purposes. Once that initial preparation is done though, the agents of deterioration would impact both preparations the same – pests, humidity, and light would be particularly harsh for both of them – all three could result in irreparable damage though losses from insects eating the fur or skins, improper humidity causing mold (too high) or tearing of the skin (too low), and permanent fading of the fur (too much light).

    Antique firearms are pretty stable, in general, but have one fatal flaw: they are made from organic (wood stocks) and inorganic (steel barrels and hardware) that inherently work against each other! Wood is hygroscopic (meaning it absorbs and gives off moisture based on ambient relative humidity levels) so it expands and contracts. Metal? Not so much. So they’re naturally working against each other – which makes it so important to keep the RH stable regardless if it goes on exhibit or is held in your research collection. Here’s a great resource for caring for firearms: https://www.mnhs.org/sites/default/files/lhs/techtalk/techtalkseptember1998.pdf.

  2. Erin Gingrich

    Hello, great post and those are some good resources that you’ve shared. In regards to the question you posited; I feel that most of what I learned was represented in the images of deteriorated objects. The visuals of seeing the splitting of ivory from relative humidity/temperature changes was very telling and really enforced the concept of maintaining stability for items of value. I currently have some ivory in cold storage and am now concerned about how to take care while moving it and reintroducing it to a heated space. The notion of the objects giving off gases was also a newer concept that I had not considered but it very much makes sense with regards to chemical processes and reminds me of the belief of animism and that everything has a life or breath. Quyana!

  3. Tony Thompson

    Great post! I agree that having a detailed plan is super important. It’s very smart to think about non-displayed items that might be useful to display at some later date. I think my favorite portion of this module was learning about how the preventive techniques that the herbarium uses to preserve plants. Most of my collection experience is with animals so learning about different processes related to preserving plants was very interesting!

  4. Barbara Long

    Good Afternoon,

    Great post with the comparisons. In response to your question, it would be all the people that are involved in a conservator process. It’s time consuming and requires attention to detail more so than what an average person would anticipate.Thanks for sharing.

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