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NCPTT Wet Recovery Workshop in 2008.

NCPTT Wet Recovery Workshop in 2008.

If a disaster has affected your collection, time is of the essence. The following pages provide basic information on a variety of materials that may be part of your collection. The Salvage at a Glance series is part of the NPS Museum Management Program’s Conserve O Grams. Conserve O Grams are short leaflets that focus on caring for museum collections. For the full version or additional leaflets please visit the Museum Management Program.

For additional assistance please contact a conservator that specializes in the materials that your musuem houses. The American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artisitc Works has a resource center that can assist you in finding a conservation professional.

Salvage At a Glance, Part I: Paper Based Collections

Material Priority Handling Precautions Packing Method Drying Method
Paper Documents and Manuscripts
Stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Don’t separate single sheets. Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or cartons. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry.
Friable media (pastels, chalks) Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or cartons. Air or freeze dry.
Soluble inks (felt pens, colored pens, ball point pens) Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or cartons. Air or freeze dry.
Maps and Plans
Stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Use extra caution if folded or rolled. Pack in map drawers, bread trays, flat boxes, on heavy cardboard or poly-covered plywood. Air or freeze dry.
Soluble media (maps and plans by photo reproductive processes; hand-colored maps) Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders and pack as above. Air or freeze dry.
Drafting linens Immediately freeze or dry. Avoid pressure, inks can smear. Pack like soluble media (see above) in containers lined with plastic. Air or freeze dry. Air dry by separating sheets and interleaving.
Maps on coated papers Immediately freeze or dry. Pack like soluble media (see above) in containers lined with plastic. Freeze drying preferred.
Books
Books and pamphlets Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not open or close. Do not separate covers. Separate with freezer paper; pack spine down in milk crate or polypropylene box, one layer deep. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry. Air dry by fanning pages and interleaving.
Leather and vellum bindings Immediately dry or freeze if there are many. See above. See above. Air dry.
Books and periodicals with coated papers Immediately freeze or dry. See above. Pack spine down in containers lined with garbage bags. Freeze drying preferred. Air dry by fanning pages and interleaving.
Parchment and Vellum Manuscripts
Immediately freeze or dry. Interleave between folders. Pack oversize materials flat. Air or freeze dry. Do not freeze dry gilded or illuminated manuscripts.
Works of Art on Paper
Prints and drawings with stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Don’t separate single sheets. Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or polypropylene cartons. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry.
Oversize prints and drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Use extra caution if folded or rolled. Pack in map drawers, bread trays, flat boxes, on heavy cardboard or poly-covered
plywood.
Damp––air or freeze dry. Wet––freeze drying preferred.
Framed prints and drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Handle glass with care. Unframe if possible, then pack as above. Once unframed and unmatted, air or freeze dry.
Soluble media (watercolors, soluble inks, and hand colored prints) Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or poly-ropylene cartons. Air or freeze dry.
Coated papers (such as posters) Immediately freeze or dry. If freezing, keep wet in containers lined with garbage bags. Freeze drying preferred. Air dry by separating pages and interleaving.
Black and White Photographic Prints
Albumen prints Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch binder with bare hands. Interleave between groups of photographs. Air dry or thaw and air dry.
Matte and glossy collodion prints Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Avoid abrasion. Do not touch with bare hands. Air dry, thaw and air dry, or freeze dry.
Silver gelatin printing out and developing out papers Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch emulsion with bare hands. If freezing, keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside boxes. Order of preference: Air dry Thaw and air dry Freeze dry DO NOT vacuum dry.
Carbon prints and Woodburytypes Immediately freeze or dry. Handle carefully; binder can swell. Pack horizontally. Air dry or thaw and air dry.
Photomechanical prints (collotypes, photogravures) Cyanotypes Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not separate single sheets. Interleave every 2″ and pack in boxes or crates. Air dry or freeze dry.
Color Photographs
Dye transfer prints Package to prevent damage. Recovery rate is poor. Immediately dry. Do not touch emulsion. Transport horizontally. Air dry face up.
Chromogenic prints and negatives Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch binder with bare hands. If freezing, keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside boxes. Order of preference: Air dry Thaw and air dry Freeze dry DO NOT vacuum dry.
Cased Photographs
Ambrotypes Pannotypes Recovery rate is low. Immediately dry. Handle with care. Extremely fragile binder. Glass supports. Pack horizontally in a padded container. Air dry face up. Never freeze.
Daguerreotypes Immediately dry. Handle with care. Fragile surface and cover glass. Pack horizontally in a padded container. Air dry face up. Never freeze.
Tintypes Immediately dry. Handle with care. Fragile binder. Pack horizontally. Air dry. Never freeze.

The Conserve O Gram series is published as a reference on collections management and curatorial issues. Mention of a product, a manufacturer, or a supplier by name in this publication does not constitute an endorsement of that product or supplier by the National Park Service. Sources named are not all inclusive. It is suggested that readers also seek alternative product and vendor information in order to assess the full range of available supplies and equipment.

The series is distributed to all NPS units and is available to non-NPS institutions and interested individuals on line at . For further information and guidance concerning any of the topics or procedures addressed in the series, contact NPS Museum Management Program, 1849 C Street NW (2265), Washington, DC 20240; (202) 354-2000.

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3 Responses to Managing Collections After a Disaster

  1. […] Conserve O Grams – Information on the protection and recovery of damaged books, papers, photographs, textiles, and other cultural objects. […]

  2. pat stark says:

    What should I do with a painting [I THINK acrylic] on cardboard . it was found in the muddy silt and is still quite damp. It is curled on 2 edges some. Thanks Pat – Hartford Hisotircal Sociey

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