This Collections template has been produced by our Conservation Development Officer, Helena, to provide guidance on collections care after an emergency and a suggested way to record the condition of your objects at the time.

If you have any questions about our Collections resources or cannot find something specific you are looking for, then please get in touch.

Contacts: Get overview first – don’t just dive in If wet, lay flat, paint upwards Wet: keep books shut and spine down, pack in ziplock bags in crate/box Use this Museum salvage Sheet as a reference guide in an emergency. On the salavge form, detail the description and condition of each object.
HARWELL HDRS 01235 432245 Photograph and record everything Don’t touch wet gilding or any paint
CDO 07792 213 217 Keep areas secure Check for loose joints or glass Damp: If binding strong enough, stand books on table with pages fanned to air dry, interleave damp papers with paper towel. Protect papers with card
Identify helpers, challenge strangers Stack dry frames back to back, interleave with sheets of card, bubblewrap or Jiffy foam
Agree team roles
Set up work area and keep it clean PRINTING – This guide is formatted for printing on A4 . Amend as necessary and select ‘Print Active Sheets’ when sending to print.
Use trays, crates, boxes. Number and list Do not stack unframed paintings. Keep flat Dry: Pack books flat, protect papers with card folders
Use bubblewrap, Jiffy foam to pad crates and boxes
Safety first – your own and others’ Identify priority or risk items Lay flat and air dry if possible Joints, veneers may be weak/soften
Don’t take risks or overstretch Lift one object at a time Roll carpets pile out Remove drawers, secure doors, loose parts with cotton tape.
Always wear waterproof gloves Separate wet and dry items Use plastic drain pipe to roll large items
Floodwater may be contaminated Get dry items out of wet boxes
Take rests, stop when tired Ziplock bags for broken pieces of item Carry large items supported on polythene, bubblewrap or Tyvek sheet Lift under strongest part, eg under seat, not by arms, handles, edges
Look out for broken pieces, sharp edges Place wet items on paper towel
Don’t work alone – ask for help NEVER WIPE WET SURFACE Avoid folding. Pad folds with rolls of tissue (dry) or bubblewrap (if wet) Lay paper towel on wet areas to soak up water, then lift off, don’t wipe
Record everything you do, share information Cleaning comes later !
Keep everything cool Dyes, metalwork at special risk Try not to touch upholstery
Separate: dry, damp, wet Blot wet metals with paper towel May be very soft, easily stained May need support while drying
Keep area clean Air dry on tables if possible Keep statuary upright Leather may shrink or warp – get specialist help
Handle by edges only Pack in polythene box with big bags of silica gel to keep dry Carry and store large sheets of stone (eg marble tabletops) on edge, NOT flat. Be careful when turning them
Do not touch image surface Other materials may cause staining
If safe, rinse in clean water while wet to remove loose dirt. Fire damage may cause rapid corrosion – get help
Hang wet/damp prints on line or lay face-up on paper towel or silicone release paper Keeping assemblages together may be vital (e.g. box of archaeological pottery or bone)
Pad between items with bubblewrap or Jiffy foam Pad supports with bubblewrap, Jiffy foam
Will curl when drying Be aware of hazards from the objects – mercury, old pesticides, pigments, radioactivity
Be careful of drafts when  dry Stack plates vertically in crates. Pad trolleys, use webbing straps or cotton tape to secure
Colour photos are especially sensitive Old glass or glazes may be unstable after wetting
If items can’t be moved, photo and protect from further damage, e.g. Tyvek sheet or polythene
Be prepared for further changes, esp mould, corrosion, weakened joins Use dehumidifiers, fans to air dry and keep cool.
Get specialist help asap, e.g. clocks, musical instruments, natural history Cut rectangles of bubble wrap or Jiffy foam to interleave, line ziplock bags
Number all boxes, keep a copy of all box lists Don’t seal damp material in polythene – let it breathe
© South West Museum Development 2019 June 2019
Museum Salvage Form
Box No: Comments & Instructions:
Object No. Name Brief Description Condition

Download the resource: