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"Preservation quality carpet"

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    • #135002
      Lacey Czeluscinski

      Hello there,

      I’m a new registrar and I would like to upgrade the vertical bin storage areas my institution uses to house framed art. I listened to an archived C2C webinar that further directed me to a Minnesota Historic Society handout about storage areas, that I found very helpful. It suggested using acid free dividers of course, but also lining the bottom of the bins with “preservation quality carpet.” Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any further explanation of what this carpet would be comprised of/means to describe and procure it.

      Alternatively, other than carpet, what would you recommend to line the bottom of the bins, if anything?


    • #135004
      Jessica Walthew

      Hi Lacey,
      Thanks for your question. In this case, preservation quality refers to a material that has been tested or certified so that we are sure it does not off-gas (emit) any volatile pollutants. These pollutants are volatile (sometimes odorous) molecules from manufacture or from the ageing of the material that can cause damage to different materials in your collection. Conservation labs refer to the “Oddy test,” which is an empirical test performed to check the effect of small swatches of material on metal coupons in a closed environment, and more info can be found here on the conservation wiki:

      Oddy tests results are interpreted after a period of accelerated ageing, and conservators then rank materials as unacceptable, acceptable for short term uses, or acceptable for long term uses (like your storage question). Some materials which have been tested are listed on the wiki, however, this test is limited in that it tests specifically the effect on metals (usually copper, silver, and lead) while other collections materials may be sensitive to other pollutants. Manufacturers can also change production methods without changing product names or indicating changes in any other way. Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) and “odorless”are two manufacturers terms that are related, but we often like to test the materials ourselves to be sure. If you are unable to find a carpeting type material that has been tested and seems to meet your needs you might substitute another inert material such as polyethylene foam sheeting (Volara), which would likewise cushion the bottom of your storage area. Sheet Volara or other polyethylene sheet materials are often available from archival and conservation suppliers on large rolls, so might fit your intended purpose well as you could quite easily cut it down to fit the size of your bins.

      Good luck and please let me know if this has answered your question or if you’d like more information.
      Best, Jessica

    • #135005
      Lacey Czeluscinski

      Ethofoam/Volara it is!


      Thanks so much for your help! Gives me an idea for a future publication at least…

    • #135014
      Michael Nagy

      If the shelving has grated racks instead of solid metal shelves I would consider archival grade Coroplast as a more solid alternative to Volara.

    • #135089
      Lacey Czeluscinski

      Update: I’ve just been using different piles of ethofoam. But thanks so much!

      Michael I do use coroplast on our grated shelves. Living the dream.

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