The primary concern of any heritage institution is collection preservation, and the ten agents of deterioration are the most devastating potential threats. Spacesaver and its network of local distributors help collections managers and other professionals plan, install, and maintain systems that protect collections from these harmful agents before collections are overcome by infestations or other destructive problems.

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DIRECT PHYSICAL FORCES

Sudden shock or long-term pressure breaks and deforms objects.

 

HOW TO MITIGATE
  • Anti-tip rail systems are designed to provide stability and reliability for compact shelving in seismically active areas.
  • Anti-tip bars prevent jars and objects on shelves from accidental falls and spills.
  • Closed rib nuts on cabinets allow cabinets to be attached to one another for additional stability.

Help mitigate the agents of deterioration with earthquake bars on Spacesaver shelving

CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Spacesaver engineers worked with California Academy of Science staff to design compact mobile storage solutions to accommodate specimens preserved in liquid. Special care must be taken when storing such specimens, particularly in seismically active areas like San Francisco. Bin fronts, or “earthquake bars,”  finish the front edges of the open upper shelves to prevent spillage or breakage  in the event of an earthquake, and partial doors enclose lower shelves.
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CONTAMINANTS

Collections care best practices protect from acids and pollution that are airborne, transferred by contact, or intrinsic to the collection.

 

HOW TO MITIGATE
  • Spacesaver cabinets and shelving feature non-off-gassing paint to avoid chemical contamination.
  • Keeping collections inside sealed cabinets helps keep objects away form potentially harmful airborne pollutants.

CHICAGO FIELD MUSEUM

At the Chicago Field Museum, Spacesaver’s Viking cabinets are used to keep entomology collections protected from contamination. The cabinets feature fumigant-resistant elastomeric gaskets for a secure door seal, a 3-point latch to ensure the cabinets are airtight, and non-off-gassing paint to prevent chemical deterioration. 
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THIEVES, VANDALS, & DISPLACERS

People steal or maliciously damage objects. Museum personnel can simply misplace them.

 

HOW TO MITIGATE
  • PIN code access
  • Physical locks
  • Key card access
  • Audit trail to track who has accessed collections

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SECURITY

We’ve installed keyed and digital locks on cabinets and compactors at many museums as a final line of defense against theft of valuable objects. Digital locks also allow audit trail to track who last accessed a cabinet in case of a missing object. 
Cold storage helps mitigate the agents of deterioration and help manage risks in museums.
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INCORRECT TEMPERATURE

High temperatures speed up the chemical deterioration of unstable materials.

 

HOW TO MITIGATE
  • Smaller collections are recommended to use upright refrigerators or freezers.
  • Medium sized collections are recommended to use shelving or museum cabinets housed in walk-in coolers.
  • Large institutions are recommended to use compactors housed in cold rooms and walk-in freezers.

DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science recently built a cooler and a freezer to house its image collection. Film, photographic prints, and other materials had previously been stored in various locations around the museum, and staff wanted to consolidate the collection in climate-controlled spaces. When a major gift enabled the construction of a new wing, a local Spacesaver representative worked with museum staff and the architect to create a compact cold storage solution that would protect the collection, save space, improve organization and efficiency, and comply with applicable codes. 
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WATER

Floods, leaky roofs, or slow drips from pipes damage collections irreparably.

 

HOW TO MITIGATE
  • Steel compactors can raise shelving by 4-6″ to help avoid shallow floods.
  • Metal shelving stands up to water better than wood or particle board.
  • Cabinets should have waterproof caps, rather than seams in the top.

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I would say, in terms of disasters, the age old wisdom that 90% of floods are four inches, so make sure your bottom shelf is off the floor. Make sure that you don't have a reservoir of infestation under your cabinet, it's off the ground for flood, for water, and for pests - that you can clean and inspect it. -Carolyn Leckie

OTHER AGENTS, OTHER SOLUTIONS

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PESTS

Insects and rodents eat and nest in organic collections. Mold consumes and stains organic material in humid conditions.

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FIRE

Fire, smoke, and soot destroy and dirty objects.

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RELATIVE HUMIDITY

Because different collections have different requirements, there is no single correct relative humidity level.

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RADIATION / LIGHT

Radiation from light waves fades and embrittles sensitive material.

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NEGLECT

When care is not taken to maintain collections storage best practices, objects can be separated from their records or other items in the collection.