This year’s STASH Flash session featured a whopping fourteen speakers, divided by subject into three groups. To do them all justice is almost impossible — it was really a fantastic session! — but here is my best attempt.
True to the theme of the annual meeting, the first set of talks focused on storage solutions for emergencies, beginning with Kelly O’Neill who presented on a mobile storage rack for paintings. As conservators at ArtCare, Miami, O’Neil and her colleagues must be prepared for severe weather. With this in mind, they worked with a carpenter to design a moveable rack made of marine plywood and reinforced PVC piping, with vinyl flooring and large wheels. A sailmaker was commissioned to create a custom cover with zippered sides and button snaps at the base, using Sunbrella cloth. The completed rack measured 105” x 114”, with the depth ranging from 43 to 93”; this was dictated by the space available in the studio.
Nichole Doub from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory suggested folding frame tanks (such as those sold by Husky) as storage for waterlogged wooden objects. She also recommended the use of tank liners (Flexiliner has a chemist on staff who can advise in the case of solvent use) as well as above-ground swimming pools, which can be hooked up to the conservation lab’s own filters.
Ashley McGrew from Stanford University recommended the use of nylon mesh and webbing fixed with fast release clips to create user-friendly, flexible, and affordable restraints to protect objects during earthquakes.
The next group of presenters discussed solutions that were large in scale and scope, beginning with Alicia Ghadban, who discussed the implementation of the RE-ORG methodology at a workshop at the WuHou Shrine Museum in China. The workshop focused on a storage room on the third floor, where objects were stored on the floor, limiting access. During the reorganization, most objects were removed from the room, allowing the installation of compact shelving. Materials were reused wherever possible, and objects were housed by size and type. Additional information about RE-ORG is available here.
Gretchen Anderson from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History followed with a way to protect type collections for archeology: she made a lid with a window in it using archival board and polyester film, protecting objects from dust while allowing them to remain visible. Meanwhile, her colleague, Leslie Haines, suggested an alternative to plastic sheeting for building dust covers for large objects: they now use Tyvek, which is draped over a support made of PVC piping. The support is basically a cube made of piping (the bottom framework is important for stability) and can incorporate a Coroplast panel on top to protect the object from water. Cotton ties can be sewn to the Tyvek to help hold it closed, and images of the object can be fixed to the exterior for easy identification.
Erika Range then discussed a recent survey at the Canadian Museum of Nature that developed guidelines and decision trees to use in identifying appropriate labeling materials for use in natural history collections. I was hoping these would be available online, but could not find them; hopefully they will be made available to the wider conservation community soon.
The last segment of the session dealt with multipurpose solutions, beginning with Sanchita Balachandran of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, who presented on the rehousing of small robust archeological objects to facilitate their safe use in classrooms. She and her colleagues developed a repeatable, modular, searchable, and useable solution that could be implemented by student workers. Details on the solution are available here .
Emily Wroczynski followed with a presentation on creating clamshell boxes for oyster shells with rare earth magnet closures. Then, Kesha Talbert described the creation of mounts for the display and storage of handheld fans at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. These custom mounts were made with matboard covered with suede polyethylene, and step by step instructions are available here.
Stephanie Gowler described the problems inherent in displaying and storing items from the archive of performance artist Charlotte Moorman. Mounts needed to be almost invisible, which Gowler and her colleagues achieved by the use of Tycore and Volara panels with Ethafoam and Volara supports. Objects were sewn onto the panels with monofilament and linen thread, and the whole was housed in custom boxes from Talas. Quilts of Hollytex and polyester batting were used to minimize vibration. A great blog-post detailing the process is available here.
The session came to a close with two presentations on the housing of (relatively) flat materials. William Bennett, from the Smithsonian Institution Archives, presented on his creation of a custom pieced housing for a fragile early gelatin print using a magnetic overmat that allowed the photograph to be easily removed if necessary. Liz Peirce’s presentation on the rehousing of a collection of thin wood samples in four-flap boxes that are themselves housed in a clamshell box.