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Subject: Cleaning mounted birds

Cleaning mounted birds

From: Wendy Claire Jessup <prevcon>
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 1996
On Nov. 11 Roberta Salmaso wrote:

>I am looking for information (personal experience or bibliography)
>on how to clean mounted birds, mostly from dust, sometimes very old
>dust. I know that this can be done with a light washing,
>trichloroethylene, dimethylketone or lac thinner. I would like to
>know if and how these techniques can damage the specimens and would
>like to know other cleaning methods.

While I cannot address cleaning techniques, I would like to address
concerns about personal safety when cleaning these specimens.  It is
possible that the dust may contain residues of pesticides such as
arsenic and possibly other *proprietary* treatments--which may not
be documented.   As a consequence, personal protective measures must
be taken.

I refer Ms. Salmaso to a paper I wrote with Monona Rossol (Arts,
Crafts, and Theater Safety, 181 Thompson Street, New York, New York
10012; Tel: 212-777-0062; e-mail: 75054.2542 [at] compuserve__com) and
presented as the Health and Safety lecture at the American Institute
for Conservation's  Annual Meeting in 1995.  This paper will be
published soon in the International Journal of Museum Management and
Curatorship and discusses pesticides and other toxic materials found
on objects and specimens or which can be assumed to have been used
because someone may have  had a special "recipe" which works.
Additionally, we found instances where toxic materials were used
even though they had been banned or restricted because the
caretakers of these objects felt there were no other options for
protecting their collections. Thus, we all need  to assume that
toxic residues remain on museum objects and take measures to protect

Furthermore, any treatment planned needs to take these potential
residues into consideration since they may react with the materials
(solvents, etc.) used.

Wendy Jessup
President and Conservator
Wendy Jessup and Associates, Inc.
210 Little Falls Street, Suite 203
Falls Church, VA  22046
Fax: 703-532-1661

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:49
                Distributed: Thursday, November 21, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-49-005
Received on Wednesday, 20 November, 1996

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