The Basic Collection Preservation Strategies

Hello Sobat Mora! The National Sports Museum has a large collection of Indonesian outstanding athletes. In order to preserve the peak work and sports achievements of Indonesian national athletes, a collection maintenance strategy is needed. In accordance with the vision and mission of the National Sports Museum, museums need to optimize their duties and functions so that they become communicative, productive, innovative, and comfortable tourist attractions for the community. The following are basic collection maintenance strategies.

  1. A reliable roof. Reliable against local precipitation, covering all organic artefacts (and preferably most inorganic artefacts.) While this is obvious to even people outside museums, it also applies to large objects, such as historic vehicles, or historic machines with paint. They cannot be expected to survive many years if exposed to sun and weather.
  2. Reliable walls, windows and doors that block local weather, local pests, amateur thieves and vandals.
  3. Reasonable order and cleanliness in storage and displays. The word “reasonable” is crucial. It does not mean spend most of your time on obsessive neatness, which provides very little benefit, and can even be counterproductive. It means keeping sufficient order that objects are not crushing each other, that inspection and surveys are easy, that objects are raised off the floor, and that object retrieval is easy. It means sufficiently clean that pests are not given habitats, that metals do not accumulate corrosive dust, and that porous and difficult to clean artefacts are not soiled.
  4. An up-to-date catalogue of the collections, with location of artefacts, and photographs at least adequate for identification of the object if stolen, and preferably adequate for identification of new damage.
  5. Inspection of collections on a regular basis, in storage and in exhibits. This becomes especially important in museums that have limited resources for other strategies of preservation. The time period between inspections should be no less than the time it takes insect pests to mature from eggs (approximately 3 weeks for the clothes moth). Inspect not only for new damage, new signs of risks, but also for thefts.
  6. Bags, envelopes, or encapsulation used wherever necessary. Except where other rigid boxes are already provided, this includes all small and fragile objects, all objects easily damaged by water, all objects easily attacked by local pollution, all objects easily attacked by insects. These enclosures must be at least dust-proof, preferably airtight, waterproof, pest resistant. Transparent polyethylene or polyester is the most reliable, such as food quality bags (e.g. “Zip-Loc” TM). There is a large literature on details of these methods for textiles, archives, coins, etc.
  7. Strong, inert backing boards for all delicate flat objects, to support, and to block many agents from behind. This includes manuscripts, paintings on canvas, paintings on paper and board, wall maps, stretched textiles, photographic prints, (both in storage and on display). For any that have front surfaces vulnerable to pollution or water or vandalism, provide protection by glass.
  8. Staff and volunteers are committed to preservation, are informed and appropriately trained. Basic strategies that address a single agent that is a high risk to most or all of the collection
  9. Locks on all doors and windows. These should be at least as secure as an average local home, and preferably much better.
  10. A detection system for thieves (human or electronic) that has a response time less than the time it takes an amateur to break the locks or windows. If not possible, the most valuable artefacts are stored in another, more secure location, when the museum is unoccupied.
  11. An automatic fire suppression system, i.e., sprinklers (or other modern systems). This can be considered non-critical only if absolutely all building materials and all collections are non-flammable, e.g., ceramic collections in metal and glass cases in a masonry building with no wood joists.
  12. All problems of sustained damp are addressed quickly. Damp is a rapid and aggressive agent, causing many risks, such as mould, corrosion, and gross distortion. Unlike fire, floods, and insects, it is so common it is often tolerated. The two usual sources of damp are small water leaks and condensation due to large changes in temperature drops (as at night). Move the collection away from the damp. Fix the water leak. Ventilate against condensation.
  13. No intense light, no direct sunlight, no powerful electric light, on any coloured artefacts, unless one is sure the colour has zero sensitivity to light, e.g., fired ceramics, fired glass enamels

All the things that have been discussed above are the basis that must be considered in the maintenance of the museum. Of course, each museum has a different strategy according to the conditions and environment of the museum. Hopefully the information presented can be useful and provide an overview of how to manage a good museum. See you soon Sobar Mora!



Michalski, S. (2004). Care and Preservation of Collections. Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook (p. 51—89). France: International Council of Museums.