Guideline 12.2: Furnishings and non-display exhibit furniture, such as panels, seating, and carpeting, do not compromise object safety
What hazards can non-display furniture and furnishings create in the exhibit space?
Non-display furnishings may seem incidental to promoting object safety. However, non-display furnishings can play an active role in introducing hazards to the exhibit space and therefore should be selected carefully. Following are some of the hazards to be on the alert for:
- Furniture: Improperly secured or wobbly pieces of furniture such as information panels and screens present a physical hazard, and furnishings designed with nooks and crannies can harbor pests.
- Carpets and textiles: Synthetic fabrics can off-gas VOCs that are harmful to objects, especially when a large expanse of the material is present—usually the case with carpeting. And carpets made from organic materials such as wool may harbor pests. [For more information on exhibit construction materials see Standard*]
- Flowers and plants: While arrangements of flowers and foliage are useful decorative items, they can introduce biological hazards such as molds and insect pests to the exhibit area.
What precautions should be taken in the design and selection of non-display exhibit furniture and furnishings?
Furniture Design: To deter pests and avoid physical hazards, the same design features are recommended for non-display furnishings as for display furnishings:
- Stability: Furnishing, when in position, must not allow movement and should adjust to uneven floors. Shelving, pedestals and screens should be anchored to the floor or wall surfaces.
- Bulk: Furnishing should have sufficient bulk and inherent strength to remain anchored if accidentally knocked.
- Pest deterrence: Furnishing should be designed without undercuts and gaps that collect dust and make cleaning difficult. Build a solid kick-plate along the bottom edge so that dust cannot accumulate below furnishings.
Material Choice: The choice of materials for furnishings that will not come into direct contact with objects is less stringent than for furnishings that will house or support objects. However, when considering materials that will be used in large quantities, such as materials for carpeting, acoustic tiles, wood paneling, etc. it is important to choose materials that do not pose a hazard to objects through the release of emissions. Materials should be chemically stable and should not attract pests. [See Standard* for Safe Materials.]
Flowers and plants: All organic materials must be inspected before being brought into the museum or gallery. Artificial flowers and plants avoid the problems of insect pests and molds.