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Subject: Dust and handling

Dust and handling

From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Thursday, October 5, 1995
This is in response to Jonathan Ashley-Smith's query on dirt and
preservation.  I have not seen any systematic studies, but I have
seen finger-print-shaped corrosion patterns on plenty of silver and
bronze. Moths don't eat clean things, and I have never seen mold on
clean objects.  Ethnographic objects commonly grow mold on
dirt-encrusted wood, glass, etc., although in some cases the dirt is
considered to be ethnographic and cannot be removed.  On the other
hand, how pieces look should not be dismissed as an aesthetic matter
only appropriate for exhibition.  Few curators--or conservators,
for that matter--would handle grubby looking objects as carefully
as clean ones, or wish to do research on them, or invest time in
containerization or other collections care activities.  Certain
kinds of objects--historical ones and some ethnographic ones--have
a habit of looking like junk when they are dirty. Babies are cute
because they need a great deal of care;  collections that look good
get treated better.

Barbara Appelbaum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:32
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 5, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-32-006
Received on Thursday, 5 October, 1995

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