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.
In an effort to understand how changes in mechanical system operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted collections environments across institutions, IPI launched a field study through an online submission platform from October through November 2020.
IPI is thrilled to announce that Dr. Emma Richardson will start her role as Director of Research in July 2021. Emma is the first to hold this new leadership position, responsible for guiding IPI’s research agenda. Emma brings extensive research and leadership experience in the applied sciences, and an impressive professional record in higher education with a focus on cultural heritage.
IPI is looking to partner with three collecting institutions in North America as part of a three-year research project, Integrating Risk Assessment for Pollutants into Energy-saving Strategies, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The project involves two years of field research focused on monitoring room-level pollutant concentrations while implementing energy-saving strategies for mechanical system operation.
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.