Museum collection managers must be able to recognize the signs of mold and be prepared to take preventive actions. Mold is the common term used to describe a downy or furry growth on the surface of organic matter, caused by fungi, especially in the presence of dampness and decay. It can manifest in many ways and can produce irregular stains that may permanently damage an object.
Growth will accelerate after germination under a combination of the following conditions: elevated temperature, poor air circulation, dim light, or accumulated dirt. Without moisture, the spores lie dormant until favorable conditions occur. For this reason, it is important to control the environmental conditions where collections are stored or exhibited. At SBHM, most of the collection is stored underground, which can be susceptible to mold if not properly monitored.
The Museum recently conducted an environmental remediation/conservation project in the textile and costume collection. The multi-phase project which entailed cleaning, re-storage, and relocation, was managed by a professional team including Belfor Restoration, two of the top conservators in the world, and Museum staff and volunteers.
A short educational documentary of the entire project is planned for next year. To view some initial filming of the work click on the links below:
To learn more about caring for Museum collections or how to protect objects in your home, we recommend visiting the Smithsonian’s website.