Taking Care

Museums collect objects of art, history and science to exhibit them, study them and, equally important, preserve them as well as possible for the future. Taking good care of the collections takes a lot of effort and resources. But often, these objects have come to us through the ages, and we have an obligation to ensure that future generations will also have an opportunity to study and enjoy them, just as we do now.

At MCI, scientists and conservators from a wide range of specialties perform research to extend our knowledge base of how materials change and deteriorate, to formulate recommendations for effective preservation strategies and to develop and test safe and effective conservation treatments. We communicate the results of this work to our colleagues in the museum community through a variety of means, including publications in the professional literature, presentations at professional conferences, and through our own training and education program.

But museums, libraries and archives are not the only places that have these preservation concerns. Many people have objects in their homes and offices that have special value for them, whether these are art objects that they have collected, inherited family heirlooms, or reminders of people, times and places. You can do much to preserve such valuables without going to extreme efforts and expenses, just by keeping some basic things in mind. To help you take care of your objects, we offer technical advice in the form of our "Guidelines," small brochures that help you to preserve a variety of objects and materials. You can read these guidelines on this web site, or contact our information office to obtain a printed copy. You may also contact the information office, by e-mail or telephone, with any specific requests for information.

Frequently, the staff specialists at MCI are asked questions on a wide variety of subjects relative to caring for and preserving artifacts and heirlooms. While we cannot give advice on specific items, it is possible to give broad guidelines and strategies for artifact and collections care. These have been compiled into Guideline pamphlets, which can easily be downloaded from this source. In addition, our Technical Information staff have compiled a number of Guidelines to point you in the direction of information we are unable to provide, such as directories of conservators and artifact caretakers, and other topics as well.