Hi Museum Trade Folk,
The Western Australian Museum put this video together and wow did they pack a ton into 5 minutes and 25 seconds. It certainly does not cover everything, but if you have new team member this would jump start their training. There is of course a ton that goes into being a museum professional (art handler, art preparator, museum technician, etc) and no one video can house it all. Slowly buy surely we’ll get every last detail here on MuseumTrade because that’s what being in a trade is all about, learning on the job and learning through self study – from apprentice to journeyman and so on.
Do you have a video you love or rely on, send it my way so I can categorize it for future generations.
Covered in the video:
• Glove options – pros and cons
• Handling Techniques & Mechanics
• Route planning
• Placing items
• 2D & 3D handling
• …and don’t forget to look for loose items or parts!
If you can’t use volume right now, here is the transcript:
In this video, I’m going to talk to you about how to safely handle objects in your collection. Poor handling technique causes far more damage to Museum objects than any other factor. For this reason, it is important that handling is kept to a minimum that everyone is aware of correct handling procedures. Firstly, the oil from your skin contains acids and salts that can create permanent staining. This damage may not be apparent right away.
It’s therefore really important to wear gloves when handling objects. White cotton gloves are commonly used as they can be washed and reused. It is a good idea to have a special container for use gloves so that I kept separate from clean gloves. I prefer to use Nitro gloves for object handling. Use powder free gloves to avoid transferring powder to your collection and make sure that they fit well so that you can feel the objects you are touching.
This option works particularly well for slippery items such as a large bars, friable items such as bath paintings, rough surfaces such as corroded, iron or splinted, wood, and delicate items such as paper or textiles. While wearing gloves protects the objects you handle. It’s also important to be aware of safety issues when handling Museum objects. Always ask for assistance when moving a heavy or large item as this is the safest for both your back and for the object. If possible, use trolleys or dollies to help safely move heavy items and as the last thing you want to do is drop them.
Some Museum objects can also be toxic or dangerous. This includes items affected with mold, items made from lead or radioactive material, live ammunition, leaking wet specimens, containers filled with all medicines or pesticides and natural history specimens. As older items were often treated with toxic preservatives such as arsenic, these items may require additional productive equipment or specific advice, particularly for large objects. Know your route and plan before you move. Do you need any additional assistance and you may need someone to walk with you to open doors or spot.
Does the object have any weak points? Are there any detachable components that should be removed or secured? Is it support trolley or box required? Asking these questions can make the difference between safe transport and a broken object. It’s good practice to prepare a place for the object to go before moving it.
Remember to remove or cover any July buckles, watches, lanyards, or pens that may cause damage to the object. It may seem like common knowledge, but take care not to knock others over when removing shelved items. It may be necessary to remove some objects in order to safely access the one you want to move. Always use both hands when lifting the object. Depending on the size and shape.
You can often use one hand to support the objects on below or using the other to study it. Always handle objects by the strongest point. Do not rely on handles or other attachments, as these features may no longer be properly affixed. Also, try to move only one object at a time unless they are all secured in a box or a trolley. When you’re packing or moving objects.
Support should always be used for fragile items that cannot support their own weight. If you are placing items in a box or a support, consider the safest orientation. To prevent the item from toppling or rolling, you may need to use cushions or foam blocks to prevent movement or to separate multiple items. Always move slowly and carefully when carrying objects and when working with others. Verbally discuss your actions before and during the move.
Large items such as furniture should always be listed, never pushed or dragged directly on the floor. Make sure to secure. Remove any loose components such as drawers before lifting and never pick up chairs by their arm. Rest till back. When using a trolley to move large furniture or large items, they should generally be placed on their normal orientation and not rested on their sides or corners, which can cause damage to the joints.
Documents and works on paper should be lifted carefully and then place on a support or in a folder to move them. For paintings, it is safest to move them vertically. Use two hands, one at the bottom and one other side. Do not hold the work from the top of the frame or by its decorative elements. Avoid touching the back of the canvas as this can cause serious damage to the painting if the reverse of the painting has a secure handling strap, these can also be used if you’re handling a small painting by yourself, face the painting towards you.
For larger works that require two people to carry it, the work should face outwards. If placing a painting on the floor, place pads or blocks underneath it, they should be high enough to prevent any decorative elements from touching the floor. A piece of polyethylene foam or a piece of card to separate the work from the wall can be handy. If you are required to stack several paintings, they should be placed face to face, back to back at the end of the day. Making sure you handle your collection correctly will help you keep your collection well organized and limit the chance of your items accidentally getting damaged, especially when handling or sessioning fragile items.
It pays to be confident in your abilities, something that can help steady. Shake your hands. Thanks for listening.