C2C Care Course: Cleaning the Museum Without Damage

We all think we know how to clean. After all, we do it at home. We dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, polish the silver, and wash the floor. However, the methods we use at home have the potential of causing damage in our historic house, museum, library or archive – any cultural collections under our care. For instance, the accumulation of dust is both unsightly and damaging to collections. Dirt tracked in from outdoors can damage the wooden floor and historic floor coverings.

When you complete this course you will have a basic introduction of how to clean without damaging cultural property. In four webinars we cannot possibly cover cleaning all types of collections that might be in your institution, but we can give you the tools and resources to develop strategies on how to approach museum/historic housekeeping. The main goal of this course then is to introduce you to the most essential housekeeping methodology and resources.

By participating in this course, you will:

  • Develop awareness of risks to collections related to cleaning
  • Determine how to approach cleaning and develop housekeeping strategies.
  • Acquire basic housekeeping skills for cultural property.
  • Develop the basics of a housekeeping plan.

Course Coordinator: Gretchen Anderson, Conservator, Department Head, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA

This course was originally presented as a 4-week live course
between October 10 and October 31, 2019.
The webinars were recorded and are now available on-demand,
along with the original course handouts, quizzes and assignments.
Course assignments are for self-study purposes only and will not be reviewed by instructors.
The Credly badge is no longer available for this course.

Fee: Free!!

Week 1: Introduction to cleaning methods

  • To Clean or not to clean – the why of housekeeping
  • Preventive conservation
  • Health and Safety
  • Choosing supplies


Week 2: Case studies in Cleaning Methods

  • Dry cleaning methods
  • Wet cleaning methods
  • Textiles
  • Metals – to polish or not

Week 3 Housekeeping: Mold in Collections with Tara Kennedy

  • Mold defined
  • Risks to collection
  • Health and safety
  • Methods for dealing with mold

Week 4: The Cleaning Plan: Standard Operating Procedures with Paul S. Storch

  • Team Work: Putting a Cleaning team together
  • Training
  • Priorities and Responsibilities
  • Written Procedures
  • Schedules