The Care of Industrial Artifacts

Do you have a big machine that you don’t know how to handle or display? What are the special considerations for hazardous components and modern materials like plastics and rubber? Is it ok to restore museum objects and if so, who should or can do it?

This webinar will address care issues common to Industrial Collections. We will cover how to safely move large objects, how to best store them, and address topics related to machinery on exhibition both indoors and outdoors. We’ll touch on the ethical issue related to restoration, if it is an option, or when ongoing functional use is a driving concern. Topics will include expected materials to look for and what to do when you find hazardous materials when examining and documenting objects.

The goal is to give participants the confidence to do what they can, to learn how to formulate reasonable intervention strategies, and to know when to hire contractors. The focus will be on industrial collections like machines and steam engines, although we will touch on items like communications equipment, agricultural implements and to some extent on general transportation collections.


Clara Deck is Senior Conservator at The Henry Ford in Dearborn MI, where she has worked since 1991. She develops conservation strategies for large artifacts and has worked on projects as varied as a carousel, the Dymaxion House, steam engines and machines of all kinds. Her major work is managing large exhibition and loan projects and consulting for storage upgrades, supervising staff and volunteers to care for the huge collections at The Henry Ford. She has also done grant reviews for IMLS, Save America’s Treasures and NEH. Recently, she has started to work on CAP assessments for the FAIC. With interests ranging from mechanical music to modern materials, especially polymers and modern metals, she learns something new every day.

Recorded: Thursday, April 12, 2018
Duration: 1 Hour 25 minutes


Care of Industrial Artifacts PowerPoint Slides


Care of Industrial Artifacts Handout


Trailing Questions – Care of Industrial Artifacts


The Henry Ford Policy: Removing Hazards from Collections


Drill Press Move – Video