From Linda, project volunteer:
At last Helena Jaeschke, Conservation Development Officer, has shown us what to do, and importantly what not to do, when handling objects. This means I shall finally (literally) be able to get to grips with the artefacts…very carefully.
Helena was very methodical, explaining about written procedures and the need to be sure of what to do before embarking on a task that involves moving objects. And who to tell if anything goes wrong!
Firstly we must ensure we have a clean, clear, strong surface on which to put the artefact. We need to assess the object before even touching it, and to be certain we’re putting it in a safe place – remembering the artefact could be very fragile or heavy. Maybe the object is not stable and call fall over, or if it’s fragile we may need to use padding so it can rest safely while being photographed. We must not wear “dangly” jewellery or floaty clothes which could knock the object and damage it.
Importantly, do wear gloves when handling items! Helena showed us some horrific images of items that have become badly damaged due to careless handling, sometimes by people who should have known better! She also emphasised the importance of keeping labels with the objects so we always have a record of its accession number. We also need to keep a record of where an object has gone when it is moved from its normal storage place. With so many objects in the collection the museum has to keep track of exactly where they all are!
Ready to go…
There was so much interesting information in the training morning, and so much more is involved with handling ancient objects than I had imagined. I shall sally forth now, fully trained in “handling” and very much looking forward to my next photography session when I shall “support, cradle and control” in a totally professional manner.