Monday, May 9, 2011

The Preservation Needs Assessment

I could really use a preservation needs assessment.

Our expert team of preservation professionals at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) conduct a couple of dozen preservation needs assessments each year at museums, libraries, historic sites, and archives.  But these are for institutions, not private homes.  And that’s too bad because I think I could really benefit from one.

A preservation needs assessment is an evaluation of the policies, practices, and conditions in an institution.  It looks at the collections care environment (temperature, relative humidity, pollution, and light);  strategies for housekeeping, pest control, fire protection, security and disaster preparedness;  and procedures for handling, exhibition, and treatment.

While I won’t be getting a full preservation needs assessment (no such luck!), I have asked Laura Hortz Stanton, CCAHA Director of Preservation Services, for advice in a number of these areas and will be sharing her recommendations over the next two
Laura Hortz Stanton.
weeks.  I approached her with questions about bookcases and other shelving, home display of items, temperature and humidity concerns, and long-term storage.

In attempting to care for a family collection, you gain a real appreciation for the challenges that small historical societies and other collecting institutions face as they endeavor to preserve their collections.  It’s not easy!  And the biggest problem always seems to be determining where to start.  You can count on preservation professionals like Laura to bring much needed clarity to a complex subject.

© 2011 Lee Price

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