Conservation specialists Spencer and Fry have pulled together some suggestions on how to care for your museum collections during the Covid-19 crisis.
- Please put your health and wellbeing first. Only visit your museum if it is safe to do so and is within the latest government guidance.
- Some activity can be carried out remotely (from home).
- If possible, a regular visit should be made of the museum or historic property to check the collection is okay, and all security and environmental control measures are working. If this requires lone working, put measures in place to make this safe (like notifying someone where you will be, and carrying a mobile phone.)
- Check all display cases and stores are locked and keys stored appropriately.
- Consider moving objects to store for additional security if this can be done safely.
- Ensure alarms and CCTV are working.
- Ensure all entry and exit points are secured, including windows.
- Consider signage to point out the site is secured and monitored.
- Collections Trust with the ACE’s Security Audit Tool
- ACE Museum Security Toolkit
- Collections Trust has many resources to assist with security concerns from padlock specifications to GIS specification, building security and CCTV requirements.
Reduce light exposure on light sensitive objects
- Close shutters, blinds or curtains to reduce natural light entering rooms with collections.
- Where blackout blinds are not possible, close books on display, return light sensitive objects to store or cover with Tyvek or other museum safe material.
- Museum and Galleries Scotland information on control and monitoring of light
- English Heritage guidance on managing natural light
Check Insect Pest Traps and Prevention Measures
- Remove any food and rubbish from the site to reduce possible insect and rodent infestations.
- Change traps (if not done recently).
- Quarantine any object with a possible infestation.
- Check the latest trapping data and research insects found. Plot the data on a plan of the building.
- whatseatingyourcollection.com helps with identifying and recording museum pests
- English Heritage pest poster
- English Heritage Conservation Guidance and information on IPM
- English Heritage guide on how to plot insect data on floor plans
Review Environmental Data
- Download dataloggers – some systems can be checked remotely.
- If you are shutting the building, remember to keep on heating if it is controlling the humidity.
- Ensure that the environmental monitoring system is working and plugged in, ensure anyone who might check on the museum understands that this equipment must remain plugged in during any closure period. Label plugs if necessary.
- Change silica gel/ prosorb, etc in display cases and storage boxes.
- Empty dehumidifiers if required.
- Review the last 12 months of environmental data.
- Museums Galleries Scotland’s advice on monitoring temperature and humidity
- British Library Guide to Manage the library and archive environment (PDF format)
- English Heritage information on calculating silica gel requirements
Create/Update your Emergency Plan to Ensure Appropriate Measures are in Place.
- Check all contact details are up to date for staff and suppliers.
- Check priority cards are up to date.
- Trial your video conferencing with the team.
- Check all rubbish is removed to reduce fire loading.
- Check electrical devices not required for environmental monitoring/control or security are unplugged. Do not unplug freezers if they are being used for the storage or treatment of objects.
- Remove any unnecessary flammable items from site, ensure any flammable materials are stored correctly, e.g. in a flam cupboard.
- Ensure taps and unnecessary water supplies are turned off to reduce the risk of flood (NB heating systems should be left on if controlling the humidity or needed for frost protection).
- Historic England guidance for emergency planning, salvage and fire precautions
- Museum of London’s Emergency Planning e-learning tool
- Museum of London’s Pocket Salvage Guide
- Collections Trust links to making and implementing emergency and salvage plans