Guideline 9.6

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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 9.6: The selected conservation safeguards are clearly documented and communicated to all project participants[edit | edit source]

What information should be included in the document describing the selected conservation features and strategies?[edit | edit source]

The document should include:

  • A description of the specific strategies and conservation features selected to mitigate exhibit hazards
  • The rationale behind the selection of each particular strategy
  • Clearly defined responsibility for implementing each conservation safeguard.

The document should be circulated to all team members and relevant museum staff and included in the exhibition’s maintenance manual under the section on “conservation features.” [For more information on the exhibit Maintenance Manual, see Standard*.]

Why is it important to clearly define responsibility for implementing conservation safeguards?[edit | edit source]

Since hazard mitigation will often depend upon the coordinated efforts of a variety of exhibit and museum staff, responsibility for implementing conservation safeguards should be clearly communicated to all those involved. Especially in large institutions, a mitigation strategy may become the responsibility of several different people or departments. For example, a strategy to reduce pest damage may include changes in housekeeping, instituting an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), limiting food in the building, and prohibiting any events that introduce food (such as opening receptions) in areas close to exhibit galleries. These decisions would need to be translated into museum policy and communicated to all relevant personnel, such as housekeeping staff, the public relations department, and the staff responsible for buying supplies.

Why should the document include the decision-making behind the selection of conservation safeguards?[edit | edit source]

Often times, during the production of an exhibit, the rationale behind the choice of particular conservation features is forgotten. This invites the risk of a different and less effective strategy being used in the final exhibit design. Also, misunderstandings can arise over how different elements of the strategy work together. For example, a museum may have agreed to the fabrication of an expensive climate-controlled case, but may decide to save money by foregoing the extra expense of pollutant absorbers, which are in fact essential to object protection. And if the reasoning that justifies a costly conservation feature is lost, then, should budgets need to be trimmed, these features can be the first to go. It is therefore important that project managers be informed in writing regarding such conservation decisions.