Museums, according to Britannica, is an institution dedicated to preserving tangible evidence of human kind and the environment. In its preserving of this primary evidence, the museum houses items uniquely and constitutes the raw material of study and research. Museums has been founded for a variety of purposes to serve as recreational facilities, scholarly venues or educational resources; to contribute to the quality of life of the areas where they are situated to promote civic pride or nationalistic endeavors or even to transmit overtly ideological concepts.
Given such a variety of purposes, museums reveal remarkable diversity in form, content and even function. Yet, despite such diversity they are bounded by a common goal, the preservation and interpretation of some material aspect of society’s cultural consciousness.
Conservation is practice of retaining the integrity of an object for the purpose of preserving its historical value. This requires maintaining the object’s condition as effectively as possible minimizing the risk of damage from outside factors. How a conservator decides to care for an object is dependent on the object’s type, historical value, provenance and cultural meaning; varying in different museums.
There are standards that museums follow in order to properly manage the documentation generated to ensure the safety of the objects while on display. These standards ensure that a museum has ‘’an appropriate method for identifying needs and determining priorities for conservation/care’’,as well as having ‘’collections care policies and procedures for collections on exhibition, in storage,on loan and during travel ‘’(American Alliance of Museums,2013).
Museum collection in exhibition are meant for the education, enlightenment and enjoyment of the public. Therefore certain guidelines should be practiced in order to keep the objects in a good state for generations to generations to appreciate. The supporting materials used in making the showcases , chests or panel tops should be strong and sturdy.
This ensures the safety of items on display. Use of padded hangers for textiles , costumes, leather objects etc; using non reactive materials, adhesives and coating are also recommended. If mounts should be used, it is better to use Perspex, plexiglass, etc. Exposure to direct sunlight, heat source should be avoided, and of course other environmental factors such as relative humidity, etc., should be controlled.
There is a natural tendency to relax conservation vigilance when the museum objects are out of sight in storage. The basic principles of storage is to keep the objects in a physically secured environment and yet to permit ready access for inspection before their removal to the gallery, or other facilities.
Such storage areas should be maintained by regular vacuum cleaning as a way to get rid of dust and debris. For open storage, objects should be covered with polyethylene sheets or clean bags. Environmental factors such as relative humidity and temperature levels should be regularly monitored and maintained at the optimum level. Light sensitivity objects should be kept under a very low UV emitting light source. Very importantly, the objects should never be kept near windows or directly placed on the floor.
The results obtained however, using these guidelines are quite useful. Both from the theoretical point of view and practical point, these guidelines provide a basis for a clear, objective storage and exhibition process.