Here’s another article about damage to museum collections, this time from Te Papa Tongarewa.
It is an unfortunate reality that at times, things get damaged. We do the absolute best we can, of course we do, but sometimes unpreventable events occur. Visitors with selfie sticks or a slippery shoe; guests with bad intentions and a secreted craft knife or pen; clumsy staff and the forces of nature. Behind the scenes the same rules apply but occasionally things get bumped, damaged, or accidentally dripped on.
All the Museum sector can do is reassure you all that we take the best care we can of our collection. When a leak is found, we remove the artifacts under threat and fix the leak before replacing the items into storage. We try to place things on display where they are out of harms way and are not likely to be hit, bumped, tripped over or on, or otherwise put in danger. And when something is involved in an incident we remove it, stabilise it, and have a professional asses and repair it. And, in all, there are very few instances when items are damaged, and even fewer when they are damaged irreparably.
If you are interested in more information on security and care of collections the Canadian Conservation Institute has some excellent information and guidelines. And if you have something in your own collections that has suffered some damage, check out your local museum or the New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials for professional help.