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, and vacuums that are portable and have adjustable suction.
Sometimes, for vacuuming small and/or fragile artefacts or specimens, we put screening over the vacuum nozzle, or use microattachments made for cleaning computers and other electronic equipment.
Dirt and dust can be damaging. They may attract insect pests, can be aesthetically disfiguring or obscure important information, and can even cause physical harm by, for example, microscopically tearing fragile threads on an old textile.
The most important thing we remember is to remove as much dirt and dust as possible, without harming the object.