JAIC , Volume 39, Number 1, Article 7 (pp. to )
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC , Volume 39, Number 1, Article 7 (pp. to )



ABSTRACT—ABSTRACT—In August 1995, the Detroit Historical Museum began a 19-month emergency response to a collection-wide mold outbreak in the artifact storage area of the Collection Resource Center at its Historic Fort Wayne site. The center houses an 18,000-square-foot storage area holding 51,000 items from the Detroit Historical Museum's social and urban history collection. The $900,000 emergency response involved the museum's administrative, curatorial, and maintenance staff; 3 contract conservators; a temporary project staff of 17; and representatives of the Detroit Historical Society, the City of Detroit, and the Detroit Historical Museum's insurer. Management of the project included large-scale and long-term collection assessment, environment stabilization, documentation, procurement, training, health and safety, protection, and individual treatment of objects. The successful outcome of the project depended upon decision making, project documentation systems, budgeting, personnel organization, morale, productivity, and quality control.

TITRE—Mesures d'urgence pour faire face � une infestation g�n�ralis�e de moisissures dans la collection: du pire au mieux. R�SUM�—En ao�t 1995, le Detroit Historical Museum (Mus�e historique de D�troit) enclencha un vaste projet d'urgence, qui dura 19 mois, afin de s'occuper d'une infestation de moisissures dans la totalit� de la collection en r�serve au site historique de Fort Wayne, dans le Collection Resource Center (Centre de ressources pour la collection). D'une superficie de 18 000 pieds carr�s, l'�difice en question sert � la mise en r�serve de 51 000 objets qui font partie des collections d'histoire urbaine et sociale du mus�e. D'un co�t total de $900 000, ce projet d'urgence fut r�alis� gr�ce au travail d'administrateurs, de conservateurs et du personnel de soutien du mus�e, ainsi que de trois restaurateurs contractuels, de 17 employ�s temporaires et de repr�sentants du mus�e, de la ville de D�troit et de la compagnie d'assurance du mus�e. Le projet comprit une �valuation des besoins � long terme de toute la collection, la stabilisation du milieu ambiant, la documentation de l'infestation et des mesures entreprises, l'obtention du mat�riel n�cessaire, l'entra�nement du personnel, les mesures de sant� et d'hygi�ne, les mesures de s�curit� pour la collection et les traitements individuels d'objets. Le succ�s de l'op�ration fut en grande partie due � une bonne prise de d�cisions, aux syst�mes de documentation, � l'aspect budg�taire, � l'organisation et � la motivation du personnel, � la productivit� et au contr�le de la qualit�.

TITULO—Una respuesta a un brote de moho a nivel de toda la colecci�n: �u� tan malo pude ser? �u� tan bien se puede resolver? RESUMEN—En agosto de 1995, el Museo Hist�rico de Detroit comenz� a dar respuesta de emergencia a un brote de moho producido en toda la colecci�n ubicada en el �rea del dep�sito de artefactos del Centro de Recursos de la Colecci�n en el Sitio Hist�rico del Fuerte Wayne. Esta acci�n dur� diecinueve meses. El Centro alberga un �rea de dep�sito de 18,000 pies cuadrados conteniendo 51,000 artefactos de la colecci�n de historia social y urbana del Museo Hist�rico de Detroit. La respuesta de emergencia tuvo un costo de US$900,000 e involucr� al personal administrativo, los curadores, y el personal de mantenimiento; tres conservadores por contrato, un personal temporal de diecisiete empleados para el proyecto, y representantes de la Sociedad Hist�rica de Detroit, la Ciudad de Detroit, y la compa��a de seguros del Museo Hist�rico de Detroit. El manejo del proyecto incluy�: evaluaci�n a gran escala y a largo plazo de la colecci�n, establizaci�n del ambiente, documentaci�n, consecuci�n de insumos, entrenamiento, seguridad y protecci�n de la salud, y tratamiento individual de objetos. El resultado exitoso del proyecto dependi� de: la toma de decisiones, los sistemas de documentaci�n del proyecto, la presupuestaci�n, la organizaci�n del personal, mantener la moral de trabajo, la productividad, y el control de calidad.



In 1987, the Detroit Historical Museum (DHM) began construction to retrofit a warehouse building on the Historic Fort Wayne grounds, about 5 miles from the main museum, to serve as an off-site collection storage area for the Detroit Historical Museum. The mechanical system for the retrofitted storage area was installed in 1988. It includes a McQuay chiller, two boilers providing steam for heating and humidification, four air handlers with preheat and cooling coils (no reheat coils), humidification, prefilters, and 24 in. bag filters with a 90% efficiency to particles larger than 1 �m, acoustical lining on all supply ductwork, and pneumatic controls. Three air handlers service the storage area; the fourth services the offices, laboratory, and library. At the time of installation, the decision was made to eliminate the reheat coils from the mechanical system (Weintraub 1996).

Upon completion of the building retrofit in 1989, the mechanical system was calibrated and operated for about a year with no collections in the storage area. Although recording hygrothermograph records indicated periods of high relative humidity in the building during this test period, the interior environment and climate control were judged to be acceptable.


Collections were moved into the new Collection Resource Center in 1990. Over time, artifacts were unpacked and placed on open metal shelving. Costume was hung on open racks. Many artifacts remained in the moving boxes, which were placed on open metal shelving. Some artifacts were unpacked, housed in pH-neutral, paper-based storage boxes, and placed on open metal shelving. A number of artifacts were unpacked and placed in a limited quantity of metal map drawer units and closed metal cabinets. Some boxes and artifacts were stored directly on the storage area concrete floor.

1.3 1.3 STAFFING

In 1992 the Detroit Historical Museum experienced a major budget reduction, resulting in a 62% reduction in collection and curatorial staff at the Collection Resource Center. The remaining staff worked under difficult circumstances to maintain the level of collection work with limited personnel and financial resources.


Detroit, Michigan, experienced record-breaking heat and humidity in the summer of 1995. In mid-July 1995, a period of high relative humidity occurred in the Collection Resource Center collection storage area. Various circumstances delayed the discovery of this high RH: the building engineer was out on sick leave; there was a malfunction in the mechanical system; the recording hygrothermographs were out of calibration; there was no environmental monitoring due to staff vacations. It is possible the relative humidity reached 80–90%. Unobserved, active mold growth began on artifacts in the storage area. It was discovered by staff in early August. Following the discovery, the curator of museum programs contacted a contract textile conservator on August 8, 1995.

On August 9, 1995, the contract textile conservator and the curator of museum programs made a rapid inspection of the collection storage area. Active mold growth was visible on selected objects such as wooden furniture, upholstered furniture, leather chair seats, and ironing board covers. The most favorable sites appeared to be those with soil, a particular finish, or a suitable pH (Hutchins 1995). Costume with high moisture regain, such as wool, showed mold growth on sleeves, shoulders, and trouser creases. Leather and basketry evidenced active mold growth. Spot checks of storage boxes showed that materials in buffered microclimates were less likely to have mold growth. None of the storage boxes containing Tyvek wrappers showed mold growth. Shoes in boxes with the lids closed were free of visible mold. Shoes on open shelving or those in partially opened boxes had active mold growth. The temperature in the storage areas was 65�F and the relative humidity 72–75% at the time of the inspection.

The staff had installed one mobile dehumidifier. Budget and procurement problems made it impossible to install more dehumidifiers at this stage (Hutchins 1995). The curator and conservator observed that there were pockets of still air in the storage area. No fans could be placed in the stagnant air pockets as there were no large floor fans available in the Detroit area stores due to the hot and humid weather the city was experiencing.

Representative photographs of the storage area were taken. A log was started to record daily mitigation activity and temperature and relative humidity. Two recording hygrothermographs were activated, and some noncollection hygroscopic materials were removed from the storage area. A short-term hazard mitigation conservator was contracted, and procedures for hiring a full-time project conservator were begun (Hutchins 1995).

On August 23, 1995, a second collection and storage area assessment was made by the hazard mitigation conservation specialist now on-site. With two dehumidifiers running, the relative humidity was in the 60% range, 10% lower than on August 9. The environment was being monitored with the use of five recording hygrothermographs.

It appeared that the active mold growth was diminished. However, mold mycelium was evident on almost every surface, including costume, textile, leather, polished and unpolished wood, basketry, metal, and mixed media (Roberts 1995).

The mitigation specialist conservator took swab samples of the mold from 12 storage area sites including individual artifacts, walls, ductwork, and ceiling. Two sets of samples were analyzed in Detroit by Biological Research Solutions Inc., and cultured on corn meal agar and Sabouraud dextrose agar for five or more days at 25�C. Several different genera of mold were found (Appendix 1) including two species of Penicillium, two species of Aspergillus including Aspergillus niger, two species of dimorphic yeast, and the genera Chaetomium and Cladosporium. No quantitative analysis was done. No species identification was established, except for Aspergillus niger.

The genus Penicillium is probably the most ubiquitous fungus and is found in almost every possible environment. There have been cases of human infection attributed to this genus, but many times it has later been determined that the presence of Penicillium in the infected person was not involved in the causation of disease. Cladosporium is a frequent contaminant of industrial systems but is not considered a significant hazard to humans. Some dimorphic yeast and Aspergillus are known to be involved in human respiratory infections. The most serious contaminant identified is Chaetomium. The members of this genus are cellulolytic and are involved in the active degradation of paper and wood (Wireman 1995).

With the molds in the collection area identified as nontoxic irritants and possible allergens, health and safety protocols were established. As the relative humidity in the collection storage area came down to 60%, the active mold growth was arrested. The dormant mold brushed away easily with a dry brush. If the mold growth were active, the mycelium would have smeared when brushed and the artifact substrate would have been vulnerable to mechanical damage (Price 1994).

The objective of the urgent response project was to leave the collection in stable condition, suitable for long-term storage if necessary, but with enhanced accessibility (Dicus 1997).


The contract mitigation specialist conservator mobilized the Collection Resource Center staff and worked with the museum administration and the museum's insurer in setting priorities and a preliminary budget. Included in the budget was funding for a senior objects conservator, project documentation, supplies, and project personnel wages. Funding for an assistant conservator, an assistant registrar, two laptop computers, appropriate software, one printer, and new storage furniture in the textile storage area was also requested. This funding was not granted.

At the time of the mold outbreak, the collection was not completely cataloged or inventoried. The Collection Resource Center staff believed that 31,000 objects were affected by the mold. The duration of the mold response project was projected to be seven months. This projection was based on a treatment time estimate of one-half hour per artifact multiplied by 31,000 artifacts. By this calculation, the project would require 15,500 hours of work for 13 crew members working eight hours a day on artifacts (Roberts 1995).

Deeper into the project, it was found that each crew member was spending about five hours per day working directly with the artifacts. Three hours of the work day involved documentation, rehousing, and maintenance. Further investigation of existing collection inventories revealed that there were probably at least 51,000 artifacts to examine, clean, and rehouse. Taking into account averaging, the half-hour estimate per artifact proved to be accurate. The estimate for the project duration was increased to 25,500 hours, or 19 months. This estimate held with five hours per day per crew member for artifact work and averaged the crew size at 13 per month.1 The estimate took into account the other project-related work the crew performed (Dicus 1997).


The disaster mitigation contract conservator left the project after completion of the immediate-response tasks. The long-term contract conservator joined the project. The two conservators had no time together on the project, and the leadership transition was incomplete. One month elapsed in which there was no conservator on-site, and during that month the Collection Resource Center staff managed the response project without conservator leadership. Tensions and misunderstandings developed that had to be resolved and clarified after the second conservator took over management of the project.

The project conservator initiated a number of organizational duties and tasks. Administrative duties included project documentation, productivity projection and documentation, supply procurement, staff training, health and safety protocols, budget, payroll, staff meetings, and weekly and monthly reporting. Collection tasks included environment stabilization, artifact documentation, artifact cleaning procedures, artifact rehousing, and building maintenance

The Detroit Historical Museum curator of museum programs provided the administrative liaison between the project and the museum, and the on-site DHM staff provided curatorial support to the project. The on-site maintenance staff monitored and maintained the mechanical system, serviced the portable dehumidifiers, and designed and built storage modifications. The project crew included a conservator project manager, a technician assistant project manager, and 13–17 crew members examining, documenting, cleaning, and rehousing artifacts.


The Detroit Historical Museum, a department of the City of Detroit, had a $1.2-million reserve policy with its insurer. The insurer and the museum agreed on a quarterly payment schedule for the project, based upon actual costs. Monthly financial reports were prepared for the museum, the insurer, and the project files. A running year-to-date expenditure record was maintained by the project conservator.

To expedite the transfer of funds from the museum's insurer and through the City of Detroit municipal structure, the Detroit Historical Society, a private nonprofit organization, was designated by the museum administration and the insurer as the repository for the insurance payments. As an insurer of a City of Detroit department, the insurer had a contract with the City of Detroit, so the insurer's payments were sent to the city, approved by the Detroit City Council, and released to the Detroit Historical Society. This procedure often resulted in a delay in receipt of funds by the society and ultimately by the vendors and project crew. The uncertain cash flow remained a problem throughout the project.


In the 1987 building retrofit, the storage area had been planned for limited personnel presence and short illumination periods. The mechanical system was designed to take in no outside air, and to shut down the chiller at night. During the construction phase, the museum elected not to install the reheat coils, which had been in the original plans. The system had been calibrated to hold a temperature of about 65�F, utilizing a sequence of operation that provided efficient, sensible cooling but inadequate latent performance, made worse by the cold condition maintained within the space and the lack of reheat capability (Weintraub 1996).

The appropriate method of dehumidifying a space is to operate the air handler so that it removes a sufficient amount of water and then offset the excess cold temperature of the supply air by reheating it before it enters the room. This method makes it possible to control both temperature and relative humidity when dehumidification is required. Without a reheat capability, this control is not possible (Weintraub 1996).

Using four to six portable dehumidifiers in the storage area, a large quantity of moisture was removed from the air following the mold outbreak. This lower relative humidity, in the 45–60% range, could not be maintained except by continuing to run the dehumidifiers 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the part of the year in which the boilers are not fired, essentially April–October. All dehumidifiers were drained to overhead drip pans, except for one for which the drain run was too long. It was drained to a carboy, and the carboy was emptied regularly. The dehumidifiers were checked daily during the workweek for malfunction, hose adjustment, and leaking of any sort. Eventually, three large floor fans were used in various locations in the storage area where airflow seemed diminished.

The managing of the relative humidity in the storage area following the mold outbreak was a tenuous, temporary arrangement. The museum wished to consider the long-term solution to the problem. An outside consultant specializing in environmental monitoring and control for museums provided the information necessary to allow the museum administration to reach consensus on the matter. The solution involved the installation of reheat coils and properly programmed controls (Weintraub 1997). It should be noted that the mechanical system had not been calibrated since installation in 1987, and air velocity and volume had not been measured.

During the project, no retrofit work was done on the mechanical system in the Collection Resource Center. Therefore the portable dehumidifiers were used throughout the project duration, from April to November each year. In addition to the ongoing struggle to control the relative humidity, the high level of workstation illumination and the daily presence of 17–20 people in the storage area caused the temperature to be higher than the human comfort level. Workers wearing half-mask respirators, caps, gloves, and long-sleeve coveralls and working under high illumination became overheated working at temperatures in the 70–75�F range. The mold quarantine in effect for the storage area did not allow the opening of interior doors for additional ventilation. During parts of each year of the project, staff discomfort was a continuing problem.

Five recording hygrothermographs (RHT) were in use in the storage area during the project. They were calibrated weekly, using an aspirating, battery-operated psychrometer. The recording hygrothermographs were read at scheduled times: once in the morning by the building maintenance engineer and once in the afternoon by the museum registrar. The registrar maintained a daily record. This record was submitted with the monthly financial and narrative reports to the museum administration, the insurer, and the project files. The RHT charts were photocopied. The copies were kept on site by the maintenance engineer. The original charts were sent to the chief of maintenance at the main museum.

There was no emergency power backup for the dehumidifiers during the project. The museum administration was advised that emergency power for six dehumidifiers and two chest freezers at the Collection Resource Center would require a generator of at least 6,000 watt power, and extension cords of at least 12 gauge. No arrangements were made for emergency power provision.


It is estimated that project crew members gave about 20% of their work time to documentation and documentation processing.

3.4.1 3.4.1 Project Management Documentation

A daily project log was kept by the social history curator throughout the project. Supply orders and deliveries, personnel issues, memorandums, meetings, project planning, site visits, problems, and unexpected events were recorded. The log was used by the curatorial staff and the project manager to track project activity and to compile monthly reports.

Monthly financial reports and daily and monthly productivity reports were maintained. The financial and production reports were sent to the museum administration and the insurer at the end of each month.

The productivity report allowed computation of the number of artifacts processed per month, the quantity of artifacts processed per hour, the process time per artifact, and the cost per artifact processed. These figures permitted monthly estimates of work yet to be undertaken, budget projection, and accurate records of work completed. This report was maintained by the project assistant manager and was included in the monthly reports for the museum administration, the insurer, and the project files. Daily productivity sheets provided accurate records of artifact category and artifact quantity treated by each crew member.

3.4.2 3.4.2 Artifact Documentation Photographic Documentation

Initially a photograph was taken of every artifact treated, before and after cleaning. With at least 51,000 artifacts to examine, clean, and rehouse, it was clear that recording and filing more than 102,000 slides would be a task beyond the project's ability. Therefore a photography selection process using artifact condition and collection significance criteria was developed. Not every artifact was photographed. During the project, 396 rolls of 35 mm slide film were used, resulting in 14,256 slides. Slides were placed in polyethylene sheet sleeves and filed in ring binders.

Thirty-five mm slides were used for photographic documentation with the idea that they could eventually be scanned into a CD-ROM. Ektachrome 200 film was selected, to be used in Samsung AF-Slim Zoom point-and-shoot cameras, chosen for their moderate price, ease of use, and local availability. Some repair work was required on these cameras during their heavy use in the project. Seattle Film Works was chosen as the film processor because the price was acceptable, the image quality adequate, and new film was returned with the processed slides.

A project crew member with a photography background was chosen as the camera steward. Three point-and-shoot cameras were used to photograph artifacts at the time they were examined and cleaned. Each crew member did his or her own photography. An exposure log was maintained. Paper Documentation

A paper inventory form was filled out for every artifact handled. The original inventory form was a generic form that required quite a bit of handwriting. Gradually the forms were tailored for specific artifact categories, and more use was made of the check-off format. Thus time-consuming handwritten work was reduced. Accession or inventory number, object name, dimensions, description, materials, condition, treatment, photograph roll and frame number, storage location, date of work, and the name of the person handling the artifact were recorded on each inventory sheet. Some artifacts were treated as a batch, with a single inventory form used to record a number for the batch and a list of its contents. A cross-referenced filing system was set up for inventory forms and slides. The project assistant manager developed more than 50 documentation forms, including forms for documentation of the diphenylamine spot test for cellulose nitrate.


Supplies included personal protective equipment, tools and equipment for cleaning artifacts, workstation equipment, collection storage materials, cleaning supplies, and additional storage furniture. Some supplies could be requisitioned from other sites at the Historic Fort Wayne location. The majority of supplies were purchased. See Sources of Materials.


Project accounts were established with most of the vendors. This process was time consuming and required letters of credit from the Detroit Historical Society. Once accounts were established, orders were placed by telephone. Delivery was usually by commercial truck, United Parcel Service, or Federal Express.

Expendable supplies were purchased locally. Safety supplies such as respirator filters, gloves, 70% isopropyl alcohol, Handi-Wipes, and surgical caps were set up on a regular delivery cycle.

Forecasts for collection storage material supplies were made weekly. The forecasts were made by measuring storage furniture space, calculating the number of artifacts to go in the space, including housing, and selecting specific housing materials. When possible, existing collection storage materials were vacuumed, or washed and reused.

4.2 4.2 SUPPLIES

4.2.1 4.2.1 Health and Safety

Half-mask respirators were provided for each person entering the storage area. Initially, organic vapor filters and a particulate prefilter were used. Later, lightweight high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) respirator filters with a built-in nuisance organic vapor filter were made available to each individual. The HEPA filters had a use-life of about two weeks. The organic vapor cartridge filters had a use life of one week; the particulate prefilters were changed twice a week. On a cost per use life ratio, the HEPA filter was slightly less expensive.

Respirators were wiped down with Handi-Wipes after each use and were stored in individual polyethylene Ziploc bags when not in use. Each respirator was labeled with the user's name. Safety goggles were available for each crew member. The goggles were not mandatory, but all other personal protective equipment was mandatory.

Disposable latex and nitrile gloves and disposable surgical caps were supplied to all workers. Chemical-resistant gloves were available at each workstation. Cotton coveralls were provided for each crew member. Laboratory coats were also available. Crew members either kept a pair of designated shoes for use in the storage area or cleaned their shoes with Handi-Wipes after each storage room exit.

Seventy percent isopropyl alcohol was used to clean work surfaces in the storage area and transition room. This concentration appears to be the least damaging yet readily available fungicide for use in museums (Strang and Dawson 1991). Lysol was not used because of the uncertainty of additives present. Commercial Lysol preparations contain 0.1% orthophenylphenol with a minimum number of additives in 70% alcohol (Strang and Dawson 1991). The 70% isopropyl alcohol was stored in a chemical storage cabinet and used with caution. A 10% Clorox water solution was used to clean hand tools and brushes. Cleaning cloths and coveralls were washed in hot water with detergent and Clorox.

4.2.2 4.2.2 Workstations

Workstations consisted of tables, chairs, a lamp, a bag-lined waste box, an Optivisor, a HEPA filter vacuum, fiberglass window screening, various size brushes and hand tools, inventory forms, pencils, and acid-free artifact tags. All work surfaces were covered with Tyvek, with an underlayment of 1/8 in. Ethafoam. Tables, chairs, and lamps were requisitioned from other sites on the Historic Fort Wayne grounds. This equipment was an eclectic collection, with no ergonomic characteristics.

Ethafoam sheeting, Tyvek rolls, and acid-free tissue rolls were kept on holders in the storage area in both rooms. A large worktable was set up in the storage area, where templates, utility knives and scissors, tape measures and yardsticks, and pencils were kept.

4.2.3 4.2.3 Collection Care Materials and Equipment

Collection supplies included Tyvek, Ethafoam 1/8 in. sheeting and 1 in. and 2 in. plank, unbuffered acid-free tissue, unbuffered acid-free interleaving papers, unbuffered acid-free heavyweight card stock and tan board, pH-neutral corrugated gray board sheets, Mylar sheets and enclosures, polyethylene bags, pH-neutral corrugated gray board storage boxes, polypropylene storage boxes, acid-free artifact identification hang tags, polyester batting, polystyrene clothes hangers, and cotton twill tape.

With few exceptions, five different-size pH-neutral lidded corrugated boxes and four sizes of lidded polypropylene boxes were stocked. They proved to be appropriate for most artifacts needing housing. A wide selection of sizes of polyethylene Ziploc bags was maintained. Unbuffered acid-free boards and papers were stocked for custom housing or interleaving as needed. No buffered boards and papers were stocked to avoid accidental, inappropriate use of buffered materials.

No adhesives were used in the project. Custom housing joins were mechanical joins, using twill tape systems. To avoid the eventual failure of adhesive in long-term storage, all padding attached to the storage units, hangers, or any other system was a mechanical attachment, using twill tape or muslin strips.

The project used five Royal Classic Power Team canister vacuums, Model 4650, and five Royal Pro Series canister vacuums. The Royal Classic has a 1–10 suction strength control. The Royal Pro Series has an adjustable opening on the hose to control suction strength. Both were filtered to 99.9% efficiency, down to a particle size of 0.3 �m, using a double bag system and a foam insert. The Royal vacuums are noisy and cumbersome to handle. Suction control is limited. Contained waste disposal is awkward. Durability with hard use is fair.

The preferred vacuum is the Nilfisk GS 80 with HEPA filter, variable speed control transformer, and microaccessories. The Nilfisk has excellent suction control, convenient waste disposal, and limited maintenance needs. The Nilfisk gives 99.997% filter efficiency to 0.3 �m. Water-filtered vacuum cleaners are not recommended because of questionable filtration efficacy and difficulty in proper waste disposal and maintenance.

4.2.4 4.2.4 Supply Storage and Work Space

Creating a good workspace for a temporary crew is of great importance for efficiency and morale. It is also necessary to create other adaptive uses that will facilitate the smooth flow of work. Several of these arrangements are mentioned here.

The crew transition room for the mold response project was the room designed as a textile laboratory in the 1987 building retrofit. This room is across the hall from the double door entry to the storage area. Metal shelving from other Historic Fort Wayne museum buildings was cleaned with 70% isopropyl alcohol and placed on two walls of the laboratory. Gloves, filters, caps, Handi-Wipes, vacuum cleaner attachments and small tools and equipment were stored on the wall adjacent to the laboratory door. The chemical storage cabinet was in this room. An oversized worktable was placed in the center of the laboratory for box making and board and paper cutting. Board and paper supplies were stored on metal shelving on the wall nearest the worktable.

In the transition room, each crew member was given one shelf, labeled with his or her name, for personal items. Coveralls were hung on a coat rack, with each hanger space labeled with an individual's name. Crew members changed into personal protective equipment in this room and entered the storage area from this room. The third wall in the laboratory held the sink and washer and dryer, where brushes were cleaned, and coveralls and wiping cloths were washed and dried. Clean coveralls, muslin, and cleaning cloths were stored adjacent to the washer and dryer.

Additional requisitioned metal shelves were cleaned and installed in the hall outside the storage room entrance. Large supplies such as 100 yd. rolls of 1/8 in. Ethafoam sheeting, 2,100 yd. rolls of 60 in. Tyvek, and 100 ft. rolls of polyester batting were stored here. Crew members had access to these materials before putting on personal protective equipment or while in personal protective equipment.

The transition room allowed crew members to work without respirators when making custom housings or doing tasks not directly related to contaminated artifacts. It also made it possible to keep all project response work completely away from the office, library, and lunchroom areas. Having designated areas for supplies and personal gear helped in supply inventorying, logistics, housekeeping, and maintenance.

Two former offices near the building entrance were designated for the project. The first office was furnished with a worktable and additional requisitioned metal shelving. This space was used as a holding area for collection artifacts going back to storage or new acquisitions. Artifacts not in the storage area at the time of the mold outbreak were not returned to storage until completion of the mold response project.

The second office was the area designated for new storage boxes. A grid of metal shelves was laid on the floor, and storage boxes were stacked on the grid when delivered to the Collection Resource Center. Small quantities of boxes were taken into the storage work area as artifacts were ready to be rehoused. The project conservator had a small office. Desks in an open area were available for the assistant project manager and crew when performing clerical project work.


Procedures established during response work were clearly defined for all personnel associated with the project. Health and safety, artifact handling, and maintenance procedures needed frequent drill.


Each crew member was trained in the safe use of all materials, including respirator, gloves, and cleaning chemicals, and instructed in hand washing and shoe cleaning. Antibacterial soap and fungicidal shampoo were provided for personal hygiene. Respirator fit was tested using positive-negative pressure and the irritant smoke fit test kit.

Crew members were instructed to enter the storage area only when fully protected. They also were instructed to remove all personal protective equipment and wash before entering the office and lunchroom areas. Workstations were to be cleaned with the 70% isopropyl alcohol only when wearing chemical resistant gloves and half-mask respirators. These safety rules required regular reinforcement.

The storage area was windowless and in the event of a power outage was totally dark. Each crew member had an operational flashlight at his or her workstation. There was a telephone in the storage area, and exit doors were marked.

All vacuum cleaners and workstation lamps were plugged into surge bars. Electrical overload was a potential problem.

The storage area has three entry doors for emergency use. There is a fire alarm system, and two fire evacuation drills were conducted during the duration of the project. The storage area has a wet pipe water sprinkler fire suppression system. There are also hand-held ABC fire extinguishers. No fire extinguisher use training was provided during the project.


Printed artifact handling procedures were given to all crew members, and artifact handling demonstrations were presented throughout the project. Misunderstanding, fatigue, distraction, physical discomfort, tedium, and lack of concentration caused inappropriate handling. Occasionally a crew member designed housing or support systems that did not allow access to the object; some support systems were difficult or impossible to open or release. Sometimes handling techniques were inappropriate.

One-on-one consultation by the conservator with each crew member prior to the start of work with an artifact category and frequent visits to each workstation to answer questions proved to be the most efficacious training. Discussions about conservation principles as they related to a specific artifact helped involve the crew in problem solving for specific artifact housing. Individual crew members developed many creative housings and supports for artifacts. A cooperative exchange of ideas was encouraged.


Workstation maintenance was the responsibility of each crew member. Disposal of all waste material was part of the daily maintenance. Each crew member was responsible for changing his or her vacuum cleaner bags and filters on a weekly schedule. Waste was put out of the building daily, in large, tied garbage bags. Maintenance of the work areas and the lunchroom was shared by all crew personnel on a rotating schedule.



The emergency response was conducted in the mold-infested storage area. It was impractical to consider moving 51,000 objects to another venue and impossible to implement the standard disaster response principles of prioritizing by addressing the most serious damage and the most significant artifacts or isolating affected materials from nonaffected materials. All artifacts in storage had experienced this collection-wide incident. Shelving was filled to capacity. There was no place to move the artifacts within the storage area, except to the workstations. Each artifact had to be examined, cleaned, documented, and rehoused.

The storage area consisted of two rooms. The north room had open clothing racks, open 24 in. or 36 in. wide enameled-metal shelving, a few closed enameled-metal cabinets and map drawers, and one wall of large enameled-metal open pallet shelving. The south room had some 24 in. or 36 in. wide enameled-metal shelving and a few closed enameled-metal cabinets. The majority of the space was filled with 7 ft. high, 4 ft. deep enameled-metal open pallet shelving units, placed back to back. Half of the crew began at the far end of each room, working toward the middle of the storage area, in a pincer movement. Moving shelf by shelf through the storage area was the best strategy.

Shelving units were emptied, starting with the top shelf, and artifacts were brought to the workstations. Rubbermaid service carts were used for transit. Tables brought from other Historic Fort Wayne sites were washed down with 70% isopropyl alcohol, covered with Tyvek, and used as holding surfaces.

As emptied, shelving units, hanging racks, map drawer units, or metal cabinets were washed with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Cleaned shelves and drawers were covered with 1/8 in. Ethafoam sheeting tied to the unit with torn strips of washed and dried muslin. All moisture-distorted, paper-based storage boxes and tissue were discarded. Boxes had to be vacuumed before being removed from the storage area for disposal. All wire hangers and tissue were placed in garbage bags and discarded. New polystyrene hangers were padded with polyester batting and covered with Tyvek, and new storage boxes were prepared.

No wet-cleaning methods were used on artifacts. Brushing into the screened vacuum cleaner attachment or vacuuming costume and textiles directly through flat screening were the dry methods used. Many surfaces were difficult to clean and required extra time, such as costume, elaborate three-dimensional surfaces, tightly woven basketry and textiles, beadwork, jewelry, and holiday decorations. It is unlikely that any artifact in the collection is entirely free of mold spores—hence the urgency of managing the collection environment.

Each artifact was cleaned, documented, labeled, rehoused as necessary, and its new location recorded. It was then returned to a shelf, hanging rack, map drawer, or cabinet. The museum registrar, the social history curator, and the assistant project manager assisted the crew as documentation questions arose.


As Native American artifacts were addressed, items deemed culturally sensitive, such as ceremonial or sacred objects, were located within the storage area in what was considered appropriate orientation. These materials were handled by one specific crew member. The documentation was prepared in consultation with the museum registrar to facilitate future work with the Native American materials.


During the artifact-by-artifact examination, a number of unidentified substances were discovered. Unknown fluids or chemicals were documented, decanted, and removed from the collection for appropriate disposal. Potentially hazardous materials, such as radium clock dials, were flagged. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality technicians visited the storage site. Their report was placed in the project records. They recommended no special procedures beyond appropriate housing and cautionary labeling.


A quantity of unrecorded cellulose nitrate materials was found throughout the collection. Each possible cellulose nitrate artifact or component found was cleaned and placed in a holding mode for testing. The project conservator established a diphenylamine testing station and trained one crew member to conduct the testing (Williams 1994). Documentation of sampling and testing was placed with the inventory form for each item sampled. Deteriorated cellulose nitrate was sequestered. Undeteriorated cellulose nitrate was cleaned as necessary, documented and labeled, and placed in five-sided, open mesh polypropylene, industrial-quality crates, lined with Tyvek. These crates were flagged as containing cellulose nitrate materials and stored on open metal shelving units some distance from all other storage shelves, in an area of good air circulation. Artifacts with cellulose nitrate components were identified, labeled, and stored with their artifact category (Reilly 1991, 1997). The cellulose nitrate materials should be inspected annually. Research is currently being done on a cellulose deterioration indicator system (Fenn 1995) that might be incorporated in the storage crates. Cellulose nitrate film was disposed of or bagged, labeled, and placed in the chest freezer for storage.


A low-profile insect and rodent problem became apparent as noncollection material left the storage area, the shelving and flooring were cleaned, and the artifacts were rehoused. Pressure-sensitive door sweeps were placed on exterior building doors, the transition room doors, and the storage room doors. There was no budget for permanent door sweeps. Maintenance of the nonpermanent door sweeps was difficult, as they had to be replaced frequently, and often were not.

All floors were vacuumed with the HEPA vacuums. The social history curator and one volunteer mapped the entire building footprint and laid sticky monitoring traps throughout the building. Baited mousetraps were placed and monitored by the maintenance staff. Two General Electric 24.9 cu. ft. chest freezers were placed in the crew transition room. Any artifact with suspected infestation was prepared for freezing by the project crew. Holding areas for the freezer were set up in the storage area. A freezer schedule and log were maintained. Items inappropriate for freezing were sealed in polyethylene bags and placed under observation.


Merging museum administration, municipal bureaucracy, insurance requirements, permanent staff, and task-oriented temporary personnel required administrative, management, or interpersonal skills from each individual involved in the project. The collection-wide mold outbreak was a stressful and traumatizing event. The mold response was a major project involving change and adaptation over a transition period for all personnel involved (Keene 1996). The mold response project evolved to include long-term stabilization of the collection and enhancement of its accessibility. Artifact housing and documentation were often changed. All personnel involved with the collection were impacted by the stress, change, and tension.

Management of an emergency response requires management skills, yet conservators are seldom trained in management or team-building skills. The conservation profession should address this requirement.


The importance of communication cannot be overemphasized. The museum administration, the City of Detroit, the Detroit Historical Society, the museum insurer, the museum staff, and the project staff had to share information. In such an urgent circumstance, focused or narrow interests have to be broadened to encompass the scope of an emergency response. Consistent effort is necessary to reduce confusion and uncertainty and to increase the understanding and the degree of support for the project (Marcil 1997). The challenge is to keep the end in mind, put first things first, seek to understand and to be understood, and renew mentally, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically (Marcil 1997). Such a project requires the will to go beyond an institutional or individual pathology.

Communication took the traditional form of phone calls, memorandums, notices, meetings, discussions, and individual conversations. These met with varying degrees of success. When vested interest could be put aside, a deeper, lasting communication did occur. It should be noted that communication was an ongoing issue with which the project struggled.

In a project such as this, it is helpful to have one person whose main focus is communication and publicity. These responsibilities include communication with the project crew, the museum staff and administration, the conservation profession, and the public. Communication involves photographic documentation of the project as well as written and verbal presentation. Communication and publicity would have been easier if the project had had one individual focused solely on these issues.


As in any urgent situation, the decision process was crucial. The hierarchy was established by the museum administration. Policy decisions were generated at the museum level, and an effort was made to eliminate confusion or conflicting positions. The project conservator worked with the museum administration, the curatorial staff, and the assistant project manager to understand the viewpoints of each and to facilitate decisions. The crew was sometimes resistant to rules and regulations. The administration sometimes questioned the crew's action or attitude. The management of decision making and the challenges of implementation were worked through by the museum administration and the project conservator and the assistant project manager.

Financial expenditure decisions were made at the project level, within the museum's and the insurer's mandate. The project was granted the autonomy to manage the quotidian decisions freely. Decisions relating to long-term preventive conservation, risk management concepts, and personnel issues were among the more complex issues to resolve to the satisfaction of the museum administration, the insurer, and the project personnel.

8.3 8.3 MORALE

The physical and psychological demands of the work were stressful. Each crew member responded as best he or she could. The work was solitary, as workstations were not close together, and each worker was wearing a respirator. Physical discomfort was created by respirator, coverall, gloves, and cap, the warm and highly illuminated workstation, and the vacuum cleaner noise. With this type of isolation, each worker existed in his or her own internal world.

The group had a type of intimacy created by shared work experience and shared stress, yet in many cases they did not know one another. Individually, each project crew member had great humor, talent, and sensitivity. There were, however, a number of incidents of anger, tension, discontent, and misunderstanding during the project. This type of circumstance should be expected and anticipated. An institution should consider appropriate human resources assistance for the conservator and/or the crew in an urgent response situation.


The museum administration established project crew hiring criteria and had access to each curriculum vitae submitted. The museum requested that the project reflect as closely as possible the hiring policies of the City of Detroit. Personnel interviewing and selection were carried out by the assistant project manager and the project conservator. The museum administration retained the right to veto a hire decision made at the project level. The pay scale for the project crew was established at three times the minimum wage. This pay scale contributed to limited crew turnover during the 19-month project.

Personnel policy and authority remained at the museum level. Assessment of work habits, attitude, and intraproject communication was the responsibility of the assistant project manager and the project conservator. A designated personnel resource would have been helpful. As it was, museum administrative staff and crew managers had to handle difficult personnel issues, in addition to their other duties.


On the average, an artifact could be handled in one-half hour. It was computed that a crew member worked five hours each day on cleaning artifacts. The remainder of an eight-hour day was spent in artifact housing, work site maintenance, documentation procedures, general clerical work, and break time. Each crew member could process about 200 artifacts a month.

Quality control was managed by the project assistant manager and the project conservator. It was accomplished through consultation among the assistant manager, the conservator, and the crew member, frequent visitation at each workstation, and examination of artifacts by the conservator after cleaning and rehousing. Some work had to be redone or additional work done. The basic standards of examination and cleaning were usually met, but individual judgments involving rehousing or documentation occasionally required reconsideration. If an artifact had been rehoused so as to cause stress on the artifact or render it inaccessible, the work had to be redone. If the documentation was unclear or incomplete, that work had to be corrected.


The social history curator and museum registrar continued to have museum exhibition responsibilities throughout the duration of the mold response project. The project was set up to accommodate special preparation of materials to leave the storage area for exhibition. It could not accommodate reentry of any materials into the storage area until the completion of the project.


It was some months into the project before the requisite insurer record procedures were clear. The insurer required detailed records of partial and total loss of artifacts and of storage collection care materials. A conservator should be in contact with the adjuster as soon as the institution is willing to arrange it. The conservator will need to track damaged collection materials as well as damaged artifacts. Each insurer has specific procedures and requirements that should be made known to the conservator.

The registrar and the project assistant manager researched records of collection care materials purchased prior to the mold outbreak. This task was essential to the accurate computation of storage materials loss. Artifacts were flagged if they evidenced potentially irreversible mechanical or chemical change due to the mold or the high relative humidity. These artifacts were examined by the project conservator to verify damage. Less than 0.4% of the collection was identified as partial loss. There was no total loss directly related to the mold outbreak incident, with the possible exception of the deteriorated cellulose nitrate materials, as the high relative humidity in the storage area likely accelerated an hydrolysis reaction in them.

Condition reports were made for all artifacts considered to have suffered partial loss. Treatment proposals will be completed for any artifacts the museum and the insurer agree to have treated. In the final settlement, capital equipment is usually discounted to the institution if it can be used, such as vacuum cleaners and dehumidifiers. The insurer reclaims what cannot be used by the institution.

Throughout this project, the insurer was helpful, cooperative, and supportive of the goals for stabilizing the collection and restoring accessibility.


Assuming responsibility for the project 60 days after the discovery of the mold and 30 days after the initial mold response, the project conservator was unable to participate in project crew selection until the final third of the project, when replacement hiring was necessary. A project crew personality and a project profile had developed during those early days. It took some time to build mutual trust and confidence and to build consensus among all participants in the mold response.

The project conservator was not involved in the first-response decision process developing initial project policies and procedures or in the selecting of equipment. It should be remembered that coming into an established project will require transition time and energy.



As a result of the mold outbreak in the collection storage area, the museum staff reevaluated the control and reduction of risk in the Collection Resource Center storage area. Risk sources were identified, and risk-handling techniques were reassessed. Museum-wide understanding of response planning in a large-scale collection emergency was advanced.

The collection at the Collection Resource Center continues to be at risk until the mechanical system in the building is retrofitted to provide a reheat capability for control of relative humidity. An appropriate environment is the only assurance that this type of collection-wide mold outbreak can be prevented.


A collection-wide urgent situation may require temporary hiring outside of the museum staff. The temporary crew assembled to work on this project was a committed, hardworking, capable, and talented group of people. The museum, business, and organizational skills brought to the project by the project assistant manager and a number of crew members proved invaluable in reporting and documenting the project and treating the collection artifacts. These skills also enhanced execution of the multiple tasks asked of the crew.

Inclusion of an assistant conservator and an assistant registrar on the project staff, as originally requested by the hazard mitigation conservator, might have allowed faster completion of the mold recovery project. Project productivity and quality control would have been improved by the presence of a second conservator. Project administrative responsibilities sometimes limited the sole conservator's time for floor supervision. The presence of an assistant registrar and the requested computer support would have reduced the amount of time given to documentation by the crew.


With the conclusion of conservation-related work, the project conservator left the project in March 1997. The social history curator undertook the financial reports, the museum registrar handled procurement, and the project assistant assumed responsibility for project supervision. The project crew worked through March 1997 on collection management issues involving fine-tuning storage furniture and artifact location, documentation accuracy and filing, workstation breakdown, supply, storage, and equipment cleaning.

Organized by the project assistant, a reduced crew of four worked through mid-May 1997 labeling storage furniture, making Tyvek dust covers for shelving units, creating a comprehensive location index, and clearing up various clerical tasks.


9.4.1 9.4.1 Settling Plates

On March 11, 1997, the museum registrar placed 15 settling plates for airborne bacteria on Plate Count Agar (PCA) and for yeasts and molds on Sabouraud Dextrose Agar (SDA) throughout the Collection Resource Center, after consultation with John W. Wireman, Ph.D., of Biological Research Solutions. The plates were open in the storage area overnight. The plates were incubated at 25�C for five days. The summary of results reported that, with the exception of one site, all test sites contained from 6 to 0 colony forming units (CFU), airborne molds, or yeasts and bacteria.

For the first time in nearly two years, it was judged that the storage area could be freely entered, and personal protective equipment was no longer required. Settling plate sampling was repeated on June 25, 1998. At this time the colony forming unit levels were slightly higher than on March 11, 1997.

Settling plates cannot provide genus identification or quantitative analysis. The settling plates use gravity and ambient air movement in establishing a sample; some molds can be missed, and there is no air volume measurement.

9.4.2 9.4.2 Air Sampling

A recent publication (Tsai et al. 1999) suggests the use of zefon Air-O-Cell cassettes to recover total airborne fungal matter, including hyphae, conidiophores, and spores whether they are viable, dormant, or nonviable. Further investigation by the project conservator indicates that air sampler analysis should be conducted (Beaulieu 1998; Florian 1998; Rice 1998; Rossol 1998; Tsai et al. 1999). The project conservator is recommending to the museum that an Andersen single-stage sampler and Air-o-Cell cassettes be used at the same sites involved in the 1998 settling plate samples. It is also recommended that air sampling include a sample of the exterior air and be used in the duct coming off of each air handler, in order to meet American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) standards (Beaulieu 1998; Rossol 2000).

Andersen culturable samples provide proper fungal identification to species. Air-O-Cell cassettes provide an assessment of airborne fungal matter concentrations. The work can be done by a state industrial hygiene department or an industrial environment consultant. It is recommended that this laboratory analysis be regularly repeated at the semiannual change from heat-on and heat-off in the Collection Resource Center, Historic Fort Wayne, Detroit Historical Museum. ACGIH mold sampling protocol should be followed.

It should be noted that this more extensive quantitative analysis should also have been done at the time of the mold outbreak discovery in 1995. Without that data, there is no baseline against which to compare the current recommended analysis data. However, with the recommended analysis, there will now be a baseline for future analysis.

9.5 9.5 COSTS

“The insurance adjustment is concluded and the file is closed. The project file itself remains open. The storage facility mechanicals retrofit is in progress, but not yet completed. Museum administrative conservation decisions on a few artifacts have not been made. The conservation wrap-up report is pending. It is anticipated that the cost for the mold response project is in the range of $950,000.00 to $1,000,000.00. Response crew personnel wages are 75% of the total expense, supplies and materials make up 15% of the expenses. The remaining 10% includes travel and housing costs for contract conservators, supplies and materials shipping expenses, telephone, and miscellaneous costs.”


The mold outbreak in the Detroit Historical Museum Collection Resource Center storage area had several positive outcomes. There was an opportunity to examine a large amount of the Detroit Historical Museum collection. This examination resulted in artifact deaccession, documentation expansion, noncollection and hazardous materials removal, cellulose nitrate identification and appropriate storage, Native American materials clarification, archival materials relocation to more suitable storage, collection environment improvement and stabilization, long-term storage preparation, and collection access facilitation. Procedures for integrated pest management and ideas for integrating new or returning artifacts into the collection were introduced. The collection is open and available for exhibition and research.


The author would like to thank the Detroit Historical Museum for the opportunity to work on the mold response project; the Detroit Historical Society, especially Pam Shoemaker; and Robert E. O'Connell III, formerly of Quantum International Adjusters Ltd., now principal of O'Connell International Arts Inc., for their assistance during the project. Thank you to the Detroit Historical Museum staff, particularly Vicky Kruckeberg, curator of museum programs, Cynthia Young, social history curator, Patience Nauta, registrar; Marvin Barkley, Collection Resource Center Building engineer; and Thomas Pado, former Historic Fort Wayne maintenance supervisor, for their support.

Gratitude for a Mold Response Project Crew extraordinaire. Special thanks to Hanne Nielsen, project assistant manager; Barbara O. Roberts, hazard mitigation contract conservator; and Jane K. Hutchins, textile contract conservator and mentor.

Thanks to colleagues Steven Weintraub for his environmental consultation, Monona Rossol for her invaluable information on molds and mold remediation, Julie Reilly for her consultation on handling the cellulose nitrate materials, Mary-Lou Florian for her concern for indoor air sampling, and Julia Fenn for information on a cellulose nitrate deterioration indicator.




Each set of samples is listed in descending order of frequency of detection. The labels I and II indicate the presence of different types of the same genus (Wireman 1995).

Sample Number Object Mold Identification 
Moran table Penicillium species I 
  Chaetomonium species 
Melcher chest Penicillium species I 
  Dimorphic Yeast I 
Indian basket Penicillium species I 
  Dimorphic Yeast II 
Rasch uniform Cladosporium species 
  Penicillium species I 
  Penicillium species II 

Sample Set Two Location Mold Identification 
10 ft. wall furniture—east Aspergillus species I 
  Penicillium species I 
  Aspergillus niger 
15 ft. wall furniture—west Penicillium species I 
  Penicillium species II 
  Chaetomium species 
10 ft. wall textiles—east Penicillium species I 
  Chaetomium species 
10 ft. wall textiles—wast Penicillium species I 
  Aspergillus species II 
Duct—Textile storage Penicillium species I 
  Penicillium species II 
Duct—furniture storage Penicillium species I 
  Penicillium species II 
  Chaetomium species 
Roof—furniture storage Penicillium species II 
  Aspergillus niger 
Roof—textile storage Chaetomium species 

Source: Biological Research Solutions Inc. Biological Sample Analysis, September 13, 19, 1995.




Characterization of most fungi or molds:

  1. They have no chlorophyll. They cannot manufacture their own organic food. They live on the remains of other plants or animals, as saprophytes.
  2. The growing, food-getting part of a fungus is made up of long, hollow, branched cells, which in aggregate are called mycelium.
  3. Fungi reproduce by means of spores.

These three characteristics are the only ones that nearly all fungi have in common. Not all of them have all three of these characteristics. For example, yeasts are fungi but do not form mycelium; some fungi live on living plants or animals, as parasites.

The mycelium manufactures a variety of enzymes and a number of simple and complex organic acids. These enzymes and acids break down the substrate upon which it is growing, digests the food, and then eats. The microbes also emit volatile organic compounds (Rossol 1996). Museum collections provide an ideal food source for fungi. Penicillium, for example, can subsist on cloth, leather, paper, wood, tree bark, cork, ink, paper-based boxes, wax, glue, paint, hair and wool, and thousands of other common products.

Fungi will grow at a relative humidity of 70% or greater. There are instances of fungi growing in the 60–70% relative humidity range. At temperatures of 70�–90�F, fungi growth is accelerated. Under these favorable conditions, including a food source, one mold spore can germinate and produce a tangle of mycelium of visible size within 24 hours. A new side branch can grow every 30 to 40 minutes. In less than a week this mycelium can produce hundreds of millions of spores.

Mold spores are everywhere. The spores remain dormant until conditions conducive to their germination occur. The spores are liberated and disseminated in air. They can travel a great distance, with a wide distribution. It is not difficult to see how quickly an active mold outbreak can occur. Appropriate environmental control and monitoring and vigilant housekeeping are the only defense for a museum staff and a museum collection (Christensen 1951; Nyberg 1998).


1.. 13 people � 5 hours/day = 65 hours/day � 5 work days/week = 325 hours/week � 4 weeks/month = 1,300 artifact hours/month. 25,500 artifact work hours divided by 1,300 artifact work hours/month = 19.6 months.


Beaulieu, H.1998. Personal communication. Industrial Hygiene Resources, Garden City, Idaho.

Christensen, C.1951. The molds and man: An introduction to the fungi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Dicus, D.1997. Interim report for Detroit Historical Museum. Boise, Idaho.

Fenn, J.1995. The cellulose nitrate time bomb: Using sulphonephthalein indicators to evaluate storage strategies. From marble to chocolate: The conservation of modern sculpture. Proceedings of the Tate Gallery Conference, September 18–20, 1995. London: Archetype Publications. 87–92.

Florian, M.1998. Personal communication. Museum Collections Conservation Science, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Hutchins, J.1995. Emergency response assessment report for Detroit Historical Museum. Sooke, British Columbia, Canada.

Keene, S.1996. Managing conservation in museums. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Marcil, S.1997. The CMN Aylmer building project. Part 3, The human element. CAC abstracts, 23d Annual Conference, Canadian Association for Conservation, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property. 17–18.

Nyberg, S.1998. Invasion of the giant mold spore.Atlanta: Solinet.

Price, L.1994. Mold: Managing a mold invasion: Guidelines for disaster response. Technical series I. Philadelphia: Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts.

Reilly, J.1991. Celluloid objects: Their chemistry and preservation. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation30: 145–62.

Reilly, J.1997. Personal communication. Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha, Neb.

Rice, D.1998. Personal communication. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.

Roberts, B.1995. Emergency response assessment report for the Detroit Historical Museum. Norfolk, Conn.

Rossol, M.1996. Molds and fungi = solvents. Acts Facts10(3):4.

Rossol, M.1998. Personal communication. Arts, Crafts, & Theater Safety, New York, N.Y.

Rossol, M.2000. Personal communication. Arts, Crafts, & Theater Safety, New York, N.Y.

Strang, T., and J.Dawson. 1991. Controlling museum fungal problems. Technical bulletin 12. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute.

Tsai, S., C.Yang, P.Moffett, and A.Puccetti. 1999. Comparative studies of collection efficiency of airborne fungal matter using Andersen single-stage sampler and Air-O-Cell cassette. In Bioaerosols, fungi and mycotoxins: Health effects, assessment, prevention, and control, ed. E.Johanning. Albany, N.Y.: Eastern New York Occupational and Environmental Health Center. 457–64.

Weintraub, S.1996. Mechanicals system report for the Detroit Historical Museum. Art Preservation Services, New York.

Weintraub, S.1997. Mechanicals system report for the Detroit Historical Museum. Art Preservation Services, New York.

Williams, S.1994. The diphenylamine spot test for cellulose nitrate in museum objects. CCI Notes17, (2):1–2.

Wireman, J.1995. Biological sample analysis for the Detroit Historical Museum. Biological Research Solutions Inc., Detroit.


Bales, E., and W.Rose, eds. 1992. Bugs, mold and rot: A workshop on residential moisture problems, health effects, building damage, and moisture control. Proceedings of the Moisture Control Workshop, May 20–21, 1991. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Building Sciences.

Florian, M.1997. Heritage eaters: Insects and fungi in heritage collections.London: James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd..

Grattan, D., ed. 1993. Saving the twentieth century: The conservation of modern materials. Proceedings of a Conference, Symposium '91 – Saving the Twentieth Century, September 15–20, 1991. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute.

Johanning, E., and C. Yang, eds. 1995. Fungi and bacteria in indoor air environments: Health effects, detection and remediation. Proceedings of the International Conference, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Lathan, N.Y.: Eastern New York Occupational Health Program.

Mainville, C., M.Pinard, L.Gagnon, R.Kelly, A.Beaudet. 1999. Learning from Stachybotrys chartarum: How to find hidden mold in buildings. In Bioaerosols, fungi and mycotoxins: Health effects, assessment, prevention and control, ed. E.Johanning. Albany, N.Y.: Eastern New York Occupational and Environmental Health Center.611–15.

Rose, W., and A.TenWolde. 1993. Bugs, mold & rot II: A workshop on control of humidity for health, artifacts, and buildings. Proceedings of the Moisture Control Workshop, November 16–17, 1993. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Building Sciences..

Rossol, M.1994. Book mold data sheet. Acts Facts8(10):3.


Analytical work

Biological Research Solutions Inc.

2727 Second Ave.

Detroit, Mich. 48201

Boxes, interleaving papers

Gaylord Bros.

Box 4901

Syracuse, N.Y. 13221-4901

Ethafoam, 1/8 in. � 300 ft. roll sheeting 1 in. and 2 in. plank, can be cut to meet UPS shipping size specifications

Gladon Company, Inc.

178 W. Boden St.

Milwaukee, Wis. 53207

Oasis commercial portable dehumidifier, Model No. 5E822 with evaporator coil cleanable foam filter, automatic humidistat control, built-in condensate pump, automatic evaporator defrost

Grainger (many U.S. sites)

pH-neutral corrugated boxes

Light Impressions

439 Monroe Ave.

Rochester, N.Y. 14607

Polyethylene Ziploc bags, varied sizesAssociated Bag Company

P.O. Box 37750

Milwaukee, Wis. 53237

Polyester batting, boxes, pH-neutral tissue, and Tyvek

University Products

P. O. Box 101

Holyoke, Mass. 01041

Tyvek can be ordered through University Products to come directly from the manufacturer. 2,100 yd. � 60 in. rolls were ordered. For a $50 slitting fee, the manufacturer will slit a specific amount of yardage. For example, it was possible to slit 500 yards, thus getting 1,000 yards of 30 in. and 1,600 yards of 60 in.

Polypropylene storage boxes

Sterilite Corp.

Townsend, Mass. 01469

Polystyrene hangers

All-In-One Suppliers, Inc.

233 West 35th St.

New York, N.Y. 10001

Psychrodyne psychrometer and recording hygrothermograph

Cole Parma Instrument Co.

625 E. Bunker Ct.

Vernon Hills, Ill. 60061

Respirators, organic vapor filters, particulate prefilters, HEPA with nuisance level organic filter, irritant smoke test kit

Lab Safety Supply Inc.

P.O. Box 1368

Janesville, Wis. 53547-1368

Nilfisk Vacuum Cleaner GS 80 with HEPA filter, variable speed control transformer, and microaccessories

Nilfisk of America Inc.

300 Technology Dr.

Malvern, Pa. 19355

Slide film and processing

Seattle Film Works

1260 16th Ave. W.

Seattle, Wash. 98119


DIANA HOBART DICUS graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an M.S. in textile history and clothing and from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a Museum Studies Certificate. She received a Conservation Certificate with distinction from the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, interned in the Conservation Organics Section of the British Museum, and was an Andrew Mellon Ethnographic Fellow at the Bishop Museum of Anthropology and Natural History in Honolulu. She has worked as an objects conservator at the Bishop Museum, a Fellow in the Ethnographic Laboratory at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, and a contract conservator with the Detroit Historical Museum. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute of Conservation (AIC). Currently she works in private practice in Boise, Idaho, specializing in ethnographic, social history, and natural history objects and in preventive conservation. Address: 1415 Camel Back Lane, #205, Boise, Idaho 83702

Section Index