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Subject: Folk art assemblage

Folk art assemblage

From: Paul Storch <paul.storch>
Date: Tuesday, May 11, 1999
Anne Lane of the Museum of York County, NC, inquired about how to
handle the pest mitigation of a plywood folk art train installation
that will be going into "temporary" (which usually becomes long
term) storage.

There are a number of considerations here.  It's good that she knew
enough to reject the mothball suggestion.  Besides health concerns,
mothballs are not effective at all against wood boring pests (which
might not even be a concern with plywood, especially if it's
painted, but they might be in structural members if board wood was
used).  Naphthalene (the active ingredient in most mothballs) is a
repellent and does not have any fumigant or insecticidal activity.
It does not have any residual effect.

Freezing is effective, and from the given information in the
original inquiry, I'm not sure why it is being rejected out of hand.
There may be freezers available that are big enough to handle the
installation, or freezer trucks that can be used.  Perhaps money is
the problem.

Before any actual pest mitigation method is chosen or rejected, the
first step, which sounds like it has not been taken, is to actually
assess the condition of the object and components.  This requires a
careful inspection of the surfaces of the object and areas of
contact between structural members.  I suggest that it be done
before the object is wrapped in plastic sheeting.  Mold infestation
might be more of a problem in this case than insect infestations,
although I imagine that there are cocoons, egg cases and spider webs
attached to surfaces and interstices.  If any object pests are
found, have them identified by a PCO or extension service.

Once the assessment is done, then you can better plan for
mitigation.  I would imagine that the first step would be to
thoroughly vacuum the object to remove extraneous debris and dust.
If the wood has excess moisture in it from being exposed to outdoor
conditions, I would suggest allowing it to dry in conditions of
45%-55% if possible before wrapping it in plastic in order to lessen
the possibility of an active mold infestation.

I hope this has been of some help.  Feel free to contact me directly
with further questions.

Paul S. Storch
Objects Conservator
Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory (DOCL)
B-109.1, Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Blvd West
St. Paul, MN  55102-1906
Fax: 651-297-2967

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:87
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 13, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-87-006
Received on Tuesday, 11 May, 1999

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