August 7, 2020
The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Image Permanence Institute $429,409 in funding to support a three-year research project designed to identify the most cost-efficient and environmentally responsible methods of preparing paper-based collection objects for transit and display while maintaining preservation standards.
In many museums, paper-based collection objects are given multiple “layers” of protection when preparing them for traveling exhibitions and loans (Figure 1). This is done in order to safeguard collections from damage while in transit. A typical approach includes the following process: 1. Each object is placed in a sealed frame package which is then inserted into a frame (1a illustrates the cross section of materials used to create a sealed frame package); 2. The frame package is then wrapped in a plastic bag (the bag in the image above is taped closed with brown packaging tape); and then 3. Packages are placed into closely packed trays organized vertically or horizontally with multiple objects in a single shipping crate, leaving limited air space. There has never been a comprehensive study on the environmental conditions experienced by paper-based objects during transit prepared in this manner.
Led by IPI Research Scientist Al Carver-Kubik, this project will include both field and laboratory research, and will be the first research project to collect environmental data from multiple museums’ shipping crates simultaneously. Data will be collected from a variety of shipping crate and packing configurations traveling through a range of regional climates. Laboratory experimentation will include testing the safety and relative humidity buffering capacity of crate packing materials and methods, as well as different microenvironment sealed frame package designs used to protect objects during transit and display.
Results will be used to determine which methods are most effective and cost-efficient while producing the least amount of disposable waste. The combined field and laboratory research components will provide IPI with the information necessary to create data-driven guidelines for museums to make research-based, informed, sustainable, and cost-efficient decisions for maintaining preservation standards when traveling and displaying framed paper-based collection objects.
IPI distributed an online questionnaire in November 2020 to inform a current inventory of commonly used materials and designs for sealed frame packages. We are grateful to the more than 100 colleagues, working in a variety of collecting institution types around the world, who responded to our sealed frame package questionnaire.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Image Permanence Institute a Research and Development grant for $350,000 to support a three-year, field-based research project that will apply data from pollutant and environmental (temperature and relative humidity) monitoring to comprehensively balance these known risks to collections when implementing energy-saving mechanical system operations.
Applications are being accepted for an online environmental management workshop, offered once a month November through February. The workshop is four days long with two sessions per day from 10am-12pm ET, and 1-3pm ET. Content is designed to guide participants through the process of implementing a sustainable environmental management program.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to our research and business assessment activities over the past ten months including online surveys, strategic conversations and working meetings with internal and external constituents, and an extensive evaluation of IPI’s existing business and fundraising practices.