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Subject: Food products in museum collections

Food products in museum collections

From: Paul Storch <paul.storch<-at->
Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Beatrice Colastin Skokan <bskokan [at] miami__edu> writes

>I was asked to add a wrapped cookie to one of our archival
>collections and am very hesitant to proceed without further
>guidance. Are there preservation methods/guidelines for adding food
>items to collections? ...

I have developed a procedure for dealing with food, chemical and
pharmaceutical materials in the collections of the Minnesota
Historical Society (MHS).  That is available as a PDF document by
request.  In general, the goal is to collect and preserve the
container, therefore, the containers are opened and the food is
disposed of.  Occasionally, the food is packaged in such a way that
opening the container would destroy it.

In rare cases, like with the cookie in question, the goal is to
collect and preserve the food as the object.  In those cases, I
encapsulate the food item in its original container within a clear,
heat-sealable, plastic laminate such as Kapak (Kapak Corporation,
Minneapolis, MN; polyester/polyethylene laminate).  There are other
laminates available from vendors such as KeepSafe and University
Products, so you might want to check those out as well.

The laminate comes in a tube form.  I cut it to fit the object,
insert the object and catalog number tags, then heat seal any cut
edges with a tacking iron.  This allows for safe handling and
prevent odors that might attract pests.  Oxygen absorbers can easily
be added to a package made of the higher-density laminates to create
an anoxic microenvironment.

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

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:67
                   Distributed: Friday, May 15, 2009
                       Message Id: cdl-22-67-004
Received on Wednesday, 13 May, 2009

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