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Preventive Conservation

Learn how preventive conservation preserves objects by eliminating the factors that will do them damage from where they are kept.

Preventive Conservation aims to preserve historic objects by eliminating environmental factors that are likely to cause deterioration.

Some of the main factors that will affect museum collections are:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Insects and pests
  • Pollution
  • Handling

By slowing or stopping such types of damage we can reduce the amount of “remedial” conservation work that must be carried out.

Temperature and humidity

Damage caused by changes in temperature and humidity

The temperature and relative humidity of galleries and display cases are continuously monitored throughout the museum. It is more difficult to control conditions in an old building, so, where it has not been possible to put in air handling to control the overall conditions, localised controls can be used inside a display case.

Lighting levels

Damage due to high light levels

High light levels, which can cause fading or the chemical breakdown of materials, can be controlled by dimming gallery and case lighting to appropriate levels, and by placing a light reducing film on the windows.

Insects and rodents

Damage caused by insects

Insects and rodents can cause much damage to historic objects. Clothes moths (Tineola Bisselliella), furniture beetles (Anobium Punctatum), and silverfish (Lepisma Saccharina) are just a few of the pests that are monitored for within the museum. A series of sticky traps, some with pheromone lures are distributed throughout stores and galleries and are regularly checked.


Conservation grade materials used for packing

Pollution that affects objects is less the result of outside sources and more from sources inside the museum. Materials used to make storage boxes or to line cases all must be made from appropriate materials that are inert and so not likely to off-gas and react with the materials from which the objects are made.

Handling and moving

Damage caused by handling

Handling and moving objects can leave them very vulnerable to physical damage. It is important that objects are handled properly, including wearing gloves to avoid leaving oils from the skin on the object surface. When being transported suitable packing, carrying and transportation methods must be used.

If Preventive Conservation strategies are properly followed it will considerably increase the life of even the most fragile objects allowing future generations to enjoy them too.