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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 temperature and humidity of the rooms at conservation standards.
When artefacts arrive at the museum they must acclimatize to their new environment and sometimes this may cause funny things to happen. During Roland’s visit to the storage room he discovered two wooden collar boxes with a strange white substance on them. As he was concerned it was mould growth he brought them immediately to the conservation lab to be assessed.

Closeup image of crystals on the wood surface

Closeup image of crystals on the wood surface

Another closeup view. It does look similar to mould, but it's not.

Another closeup view. It does look similar to mould, but it's not.

The substance, found not to be mould, was white coloured crystals growing on the finished areas of the wooden boxes. It appeared to be a component within the finish or varnish which had leached to the surfaces. This most likely occurred while the artefacts adapted to their new environment. In this case, the crystals were cleaned from the objects and luckily caused no harm (i.e.: staining) to their surfaces.
In the darkness of The Manitoba Museum storage rooms unexpected things can occur in our controlled environmental conditions. Fortunately, with eagle-eyed and talented staff we do our best to resolve issues when they arise so the collection is preserved for future generations to enjoy.
-Lisa May, Conservator

The collar boxes and contents after cleaning.

The collar boxes and contents after cleaning.

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