STANDARD 13: Materials in the Exhibit Design

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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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STANDARD 13: Materials used within the exhibit space for construction, furnishing, decoration and interpretive settings must be object-safe

Construction and fabrication materials can introduce an array of hazards into the exhibit space. They can age and deteriorate, thus creating dust, off-gas contaminants or harbor pests and molds. Similarly, exhibit props and settings, while they enhance the visitor’s experience by simulating a natural or historic environment, and by placing an object in context or illustrating its use, can introduce hazards to objects in an otherwise clean exhibit environment. <br From a preservation standpoint, it is essential to select object-safe materials for use in exhibit enclosures or in furniture used to display exhibit objects. Care should also be exercised when choosing materials for furnishings and features within the general exhibit area, especially those that will be used in large quantities.

click on the individual Guidelines below to read more information

Guideline 13.1: Materials used in exhibit fabrication and furnishing are known to be object-safe

What hazards can construction and fabrication materials create for exhibit objects?
Which materials are the main sources of pollutants and contaminants?
How can the exhibit team select materials that will not produce contaminants and pollutants or otherwise damage objects?
What materials are the most object-safe choices to use in exhibit construction, and which should be avoided?
What are object-safe materials to use for object labels and exhibit signs?


Guideline 13.2: All unknown and problematic materials are vetted or tested for stability before they are used in exhibit construction and fabrication

Why is it important to research and test unknown materials before they are used in exhibit construction?
What materials fall into the “unknown” category?
How can unknown materials be researched to ensure that they will not introduce pollutants or contaminants?
What options are available to have materials tested?


Guideline 13.3: Objects and materials selected to create interpretive settings do not introduce agents of deterioration into the exhibit environment

What risks can exhibit props and materials pose to objects?
What basic precautions should be taken when utilizing props and materials in exhibit settings?
How can water and weather effects be achieved safely in exhibits?
What precautions should be taken when using taxidermy specimens in exhibits?