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Subject: Storing plastic

Storing plastic

From: Ana Sofia Silva <anasfsilva<-a>
Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014
I am currently working on a project that involves objects made of
plastic, and most of them are celluloid objects that need to be
conditioned and stored differently from how they are now.  I am
aware of the deterioration mechanisms for this plastic and that the
main needs for the storage of these materials are ventilation and
segregation.  Unfortunately, there are no means at the moment, or
available space, to store these items individually in a room without
any other objects (off-site and cold storage are also excluded) so I
must try to find solutions that can be manageable in these

Since I am not a plastic expert and I have never seen any other
museum storage conditions of a collection of plastics, my question
is basically what kind of materials may be used in the storage of
these celluloid items?

Is it safe to use other plastics, like melinex, mylar or ethafoam?

I would think that to use other inert plastics in the conditioning
is preferable to any paper material (because of the cellulose
degradation by the acidic vapors), but I might be wrong.

What is the best way to store three-dimensional objects? Many of the
objects that I'm dealing with were previously placed inside closed
polyethylene bags, which is bad because it encloses the items and
there is no air flow to release the acidic vapors.

Another idea that crossed my mind is to store these items inside a
perforated plastic container and make use of paper absorbents like
MicroChamber to help in slowing the rate of deterioration and
affecting other surrounding materials.  Of course this would be
something that will require further monitoring in the future.  What
would you recommend as best conservation practice and materials?

Ana Silva

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:39
                  Distributed: Sunday, April 13, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-27-39-016
Received on Thursday, 10 April, 2014

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