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cereal in a box — any ideas?

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    • #134755
      Sandi Stark

      We have a commemorative box of cereal that still has the contents. It is shrink-wrapped, but we would like to know of options for preservation.

      Just a side note for Little League fans. It commemorates our 1998 World Champions: Tom River East Americans — The Beast from the East

      Thanks 🙂

    • #134756
      Carolyn Schimandle

      We have quite a bit of unopened food and plant seeds among the items we will be cataloguing and storing in our new collection. Everything I have read so far says to dispose of the contents and save the packaging, because it could attract pests that will damage it AND other collections items. So that is what I’ve been planning to do, just like we won’t allow outside food or any plant material in our collections storage areas. But it seems a shame when a package hasn’t been opened and it is from 1940.

      What does the community say? Somehow isolate and preserve contents, or empty to avoid attracting pests?

    • #134847
      Heather Brown

      Hi Sandi,

      Here is some helpful advice from Rebecca Newberry of the Science Museum of Minnesota:

      “Is the box shrink wrapped? Or just the bag of cereal? What kind of cereal–just grain based or something with dried fruit or nuts? Can they access the inside of the box easily? Is it still factory sealed?

      I would think if the cereal is just grain based (like Wheaties) and is still sealed in the original plastic bag and it the plastic looks stable, it should be fine. I would be concerned about cereal in a waxed paper bag since it would be more vulnerable to insect infestation. Cereal with fruits and or nuts would be more likely to deteriorate or react with the original packaging.

      Keeping the box in a cabinet would reduce the risk of mouse and insect infestation. Of course, you’d want to be careful about sealing the box into something too air tight since I’m guessing the cardboard isn’t super high quality and will break down faster without ventilation.

      Basically, keep it dry, keep it away from pests and it should last a long time. If the contents aren’t vital, a paper conservator could open the box, remove the contents and seal the box back up.”

      Rebecca also added that she will be covering food stored in collections in a webinar with Fran Ritchie and Bethany Palumbo this fall.

      I hope that helps!

    • #134848
      Heather Brown

      Some additional advice courtesy of Gretchen Anderson of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History:

      “I would add that you should monitor the area around the box with sticky traps to make sure there are no bugs. It should be regularly monitored for pest presence. In addition, it would be a good idea to run it through a freezer, according to standard pest management protocol ( This will kill any bugs potentially inside and damage any eggs.

      It would be best to remove the food source. If it is an important part of the collection you could isolate it but keep it associated intellectually with the box (do the standard a/b part numbering). That would remove the potential risk from the box – and prevent additional risk to to anything stored near the box. This is what they did at Andy Warhol Museum with his time capsules- all actual foods were removed, double bagged and sealed in plastic boxes. Each piece was documented thoroughly so that the proper associations were maintained.”

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