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Subject: Dust and handling

Dust and handling

From: Adrian Tribe <tcrnapt>
Date: Friday, October 6, 1995
Barbara Appelbaum <aandh [at] village__ios__com> writes

> 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.

As a conservator who espouses the investigative approach to
conservation of artefacts and who has the luxury of not working in a
museum environment, I love handling and researching grubby objects.
When I see a beautifully clean artefact I think of the information
that may potentially have been lost.  I much prefer freshly
excavated, soil encrusted objects.

However, I agree that in a museum context, collections that look
good *do* get treated better.  Unfortunately in the UK (and probably
elsewhere),  museums are filling up with archaeological site
archives that include a large quantity of uncleaned artefacts and it
is sometimes very difficult to ensure that they receive the same
curatorial attention as the "nice" stuff.

Adrian Tribe
Institute of Archaeology
University College London

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:33
                 Distributed: Tuesday, October 10, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-33-012
Received on Friday, 6 October, 1995

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