Care of Tin-Mercury Amalgam Mirrors

Tin-mercury amalgam mirrors are found throughout small and mid-sized historical collections as tin-mercury amalgam was the primary method for producing glass mirrors from the 16th to the early 20th century. Beyond mirrors or looking glasses, other mirrored objects such as sconces and carriage lanterns also feature this type of material. Over time as these objects deteriorate, the amalgam becomes unstable, and mercury is released into the environment in both liquid and vapor states. While mercury contamination poses significant health risks, this webinar will highlight current practices for the safe handling and preventive conservation of these objects, as well as how to manage the risks posed by these objects while allowing for their exhibition.

This webinar will also highlight:
-How tin-mercury amalgam mirrors were made and how they deteriorate
-Health risks and routes of exposure for mercury
-Methods for mercury testing
-Safe handling, cleaning, and care protocols for tin-mercury amalgam objects


Marie Desrochers, Preventive Conservator and Preservation Outreach Coordinator, Utah Division of Arts and Museums

Marie graduated from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation in 2021 with a Masters in Art Conservation, with a major in Preventive Conservation. She was a National Endowment for the Humanities Graduate Fellow and spent her third year internship working with the Preventive Conservation team at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. In 2021, she moved to Salt Lake City to work for the State’s Division of Arts & Museums as Preservation Outreach Coordinator, a new preventive conservation position funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In this Field Services role, she works with constituents across the entire state, providing consultation and conservation support to collecting institutions from libraries to museums to archives. Marie serves as a member of the AIC Health and Safety Network, and she helped create Season 2 of the Podcast Conservators Combatting Climate Change with Natalya Swanson through the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network.


Recording July 19, 2023 1 hour and 1 minute