Caring for precious objects doesn’t always mean restoring them to ‘as good as new’.
A hole in the carpet, the slight tarnishing of a silver heirloom, wine glass rings on an old dining table all tell us something about the life of an object. As conservators, we respect these marks of time.
And we hope you’ll learn to love your stains too!
Here are ten golden rules of preventive care that can help you protect your treasures, and the memories that go along with them.
1. Inspect and clean regularly
The best way to prevent object damage from staining, mould, corrosion and insects.
2. Go easy on the light
Protect your valuables from light. It can cause colours to fade and fabric to weaken.
3. Mind where you store things
Place your objects in moderate environments. Too dry and the items will crack or distort; too wet and mould will grow and corrosion will occur.
4. Avoid fluctuations in humidity
Expansion and contraction cause stresses in paintings, wood, leather and even in the fibres of hanging textiles.
5. Protect against infestation
Check regularly for pests like moths, carpet beetles and mice. Early detection and immediate removal is the key to stopping infestation.
6. Dust is an enemy!
Protect objects from it where possible, as it needs repeated removal. This can wear away fragile materials, even if carefully done.
7. Be wary of fumes
Cars, regular cardboard boxes, wood and rubber-backed materials can emit acidic fumes, which can rot and embrittle materials and cause staining.
8. Resist handling objects too much
It’s tempting, but it leaves marks and you run the risk of accidental damage.
9. Know your own strength
Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common ways to damage them – or yourself. Conservators always work in pairs.
10. Leave repairs to the experts
Repair techniques for valuable objects are often trickier than they appear at first glance and are best left to specialists.