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How to store/care for GE Refrigerator

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    • #134326
      Danielle Swanson

      I am seeking advice from Collections Managers, Conservators, Curators or other collections care professionals about considerations for how to transport and store a GE refrigerator from the late 1960s/early 1970s. The Tenement Museum will begin construction of a new exhibition this year and in preparation we will be moving objects to offsite storage for the duration. This refrigerator was used by one of the families we will be interpreting in this new exhibit and will be on view after construction is completed. However as a Collections Manager I have never personally dealt with caring for such a large industrial object.

      I imagine that there are chemicals inherent in the refrigerator itself that I should be aware of and monitor for leaks, but beyond that I am not sure of what other storage needs or considerations I should be thinking of. If there other museum professionals who have a more extensive knowledge about how to care for this type of large object, I would be very appreciative for you to share your experiences.

    • #134338

      Hi Danielle,

      Even though the refrigerator is industrial, work with a fine art shipper or local art handlers with excellent references to move it. The appliance delivery guys around here travel with touch-up paint. I’ve also seen an entire pallet of cabinets dropped off the back of a truck when the movers backed a forklift into a small ditch. Luckily, these examples are not from museum collections.

      In addition to monitoring for leaks, another concern is maintaining a good preservation environment both in storage and on exhibit. Humidity levels must be kept low to prevent corrosion (below 55%) and use a custom cover or even a sheet to keep dust off of the refrigerator in storage.


    • #134340

      Posted on behalf of Nora Dempsey, who has recently worked with a refrigerator vendor to establish Harvard Library practices for our emergency freezers:
      A 1970s fridge would almost certainly have Freon, which is non-toxic, (but maybe flammable?). Since I assume you aren’t running the fridge, it might be best to have someone come in and drain it. If they aren’t able to ensure that it is empty of chemicals, I would recommend being sure to transport and store it upright, and keep some sort of clean paper/board underneath it to easily monitor for leaks.
      Again, assuming it has been off for some time, you probably don’t have to worry about moisture inside, (keeping the doors open, etc.), but opening it and taking a quick look/smell might be a good periodic check, as long as there are no concerns about the doors functioning. Along those lines, otherwise ensure that the storage environment is solid – dry and a reasonable temperature.

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