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Category Archives: Conservation

Preserving Traditional Knowledge and Practices: How does it relate to Museum Conservation?

I recently attended a very interesting conference in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was the 8th North American Textile Conservation Conference. Naturally, the focus was on preservation of textiles.  Although I’m not a textile conservation specialist, I do work on textiles here at the Museum, and the conference offered a chance to visit a different area of Mexico, one less travelled by tourists.   As with most conferences, there were paper presentations,…

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Holding it Together

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) is part of the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, created to promote the preservation of Canada’s cultural heritage. Every two to three years, CCI develops and hosts in Ottawa a symposium on a conservation topic. For a week in October conservator Lisa May attended Symposium 2011 – Adhesives and Consolidants for Conservation: Research and Applications. Internationally attended, the symposium covered the newest research, techniques and…

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New safety lines will allow staff to inspect Nonsuch rigging

Look up, way up… at the dust on the Nonsuch’s rigging and spars. Museum staff have not been able to climb the ship rigging since Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health regulations were amended several years ago. In order to address the stricter requirements, steel safety cables were installed in the Nonsuch Gallery two years ago. However, they turned out to be less usable than we hoped. As part of a…

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What’s Growing in Storage?

While perusing the collection in storage Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History, discovered something growing… Artefacts are donated to The Manitoba Museum from all walks of life. Some may still be in their original packaging, never touched, while others may be very well used. Artefacts, regardless of their overall condition, can be very sensitive to the environments in which they are stored. The museum uses dedicated HVAC units to keep the…

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Hands on: practising emergency response

The 37th annual Canadian Association for Conservation conference was held in Winnipeg in May 2010. Conservator Lisa May attended a two-day pre-conference workshop entitled “Advanced Issues in Emergency Preparedness and Response”. As part of this workshop, Jane Dalley from Heritage Conservation Service (Winnipeg, MB), instructed a hands-on component. Workshop participants experienced how to handle, stabilize and clean water damaged items. This was just one part of the workshop. Lectures and…

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Speaking of vacuuming…

A significant part of the conservator’s job is cleaning. At The Manitoba Museum, our numerous open dioramas require regular vacuuming. The larger dioramas require a team of staff including the Conservators, Diorama Artist, Exhibit Assistant and whichever Collections Assistants we can round up. We try to get to every diorama once a year. The vacuuming must be done carefully, so parts are not pulled off. That’s why we use screens,…

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Research Request Leads to Vacuuming

Recently, researcher Tim Worth requested access to the cariole, a toboggan-like sled, on exhibit in the Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery. Curator Katherine Pettipas agreed it would be a good opportunity to clean the cariole and assess its current condition. The work was scheduled for a Monday, a closed day, to minimize disruption for any visitors. Conservators Ellen Robinson and Lisa May, with assistance from Tim Worth and myself, took the…

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Pest Monitoring is Another Important Task

Individual traps are place in corners and along walls, and checked monthly. As well as temperature and RH, the Conservator also conducts pest monitoring. At The Manitoba Museum, we mostly check for insects. Sticky traps in storage and laboratory areas are checked; if a large number of insects are seen, we investigate, looking in the surrounding area more thoroughly. We often find one or two insects on the trap; one…

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Environmental monitoring

In order to remain aware of the conditions surrounding The Manitoba Museum’s collections, the Conservators undertake a program of regular monitoring. Once each month, a Conservator goes through all areas where collections are stored or displayed with a hand held thermohygrometer, which measures temperature and relative humidity (RH) via sensors in an attached probe.   Ideally, temperature and RH should be as stable as possible, allowing for some drift as…

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Installing the Paul Kane exhibit

When an exhibit comes down, our Productions staff open up the cases for us, then Collections and Conservation staff remove the artifacts and/or specimens and put them back in storage, or take them for treatment by freezing or carbon dioxide fumigation. Then the next exhibit can go in.   For this exhibit, the same large cases were used as for the previous exhibit.  The case in the centre of the…

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