Guideline 9.4

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The following Standards and Guidelines are a work in progress intended to spur discussion between exhibit personnel, conservators and other museum professionals. Please check back in the future as information is added to expand on the Guidelines without currently active links.
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Guideline 9.4: All safeguards selected to fulfill the Conservation Requirements can be maintained for the duration of the exhibit

Why is proper maintenance of the conservation safeguards essential to fulfilling the Conservation Requirements?

If conservation features are not maintained in working order for the entire duration of the exhibit, then even the most sophisticated and costly safeguards will fail to protect display objects. It is therefore vital that all conservation features are properly maintained from beginning to end of an exhibit.
When deciding upon appropriate options for safeguarding objects, the exhibit team should consider:

  • The length of the exhibit
  • The expected wear and tear on conservation features
  • Costs of upkeep and replacement
  • Costs associated with staffing for maintenance and security.

What steps can the exhibit team take to ensure conservation safeguards will be effectively maintained?

Ensure all maintenance costs are included in the budget: The exhibit team should calculate the cost of maintaining the selected conservation features to ensure there will be sufficient funds in the budget. Maintenance costs generally include:

  • Qualified personnel: Exhibit staffing must be maintained at adequate levels; training may be required to ensure staff know security procedures; how to monitor the environment; and how to correctly replenish or maintain conservation features such as pollutant absorbers, lamps, and filters.
  • Housekeeping: Housekeeping is required to maintain an adequately clean and dust-free environment. Certain exhibits, depending on their design, may entail extra housekeeping costs. For example, the interior of exhibit case glazing must be periodically cleaned, which requires accessing the enclosures and possibly de-installing exhibit objects. Dioramas that include a natural setting with sand or vegetal matter must be kept clean to prevent dirt and debris from harming objects. (For more information on the safest choices for materials for exhibit props and settings, see Standard *.)
  • Maintenance of conservation equipment: All conservation technology — sensors, alarms, humidification/dehumidification systems, pollutant absorbing materials, air filters, special lighting — requires both monitoring and upkeep.


Select conservation safeguards that are compatible with existing museum procedures and equipment: Conservation safeguards that are compatible with systems and technology the museum already has in place and for which staff have received training will be easier to maintain. For example, a new exhibit lighting system utilizing different fixtures and lamp types, filters and louvers can make the maintenance of a new exhibit area excessively complicated.