Conservation can seem like a frightening and expensive part of collections and institutional care, however, it does not have to be. There are many ways to introduce basic and cost-effective methods of conservation methods into your current museum practices. Moreover, many of these practices and procedures overlap with best practices in collections care, archives, facilities, and disaster preparedness.
Additionally, there are many organizations and online communities dedicated to museum conservation. While they are not all designed for use by small museums, many of the practices they employ can be scaled down and adopted in smaller institutions as well.
How to Begin
There are some wonderful online sources and communities that take a holistic approach to conservation and care in museums:
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is a great general resource that covers nearly every element of conservation and care in museums. They also have dozens of helpful videos and webinars uploaded to their Youtube account.
The National Parks Service’s Museum Management Program publish “Conserve-O-Grams” that offer quick, useful information about conservation and collections management issues:
Another great tool is the Connecting to Collections Online Community. They offer a series of helpful free resources.
Also, the Northeast Document Conservation Center has many free resources for conservation and preservation of paper-based objects.