San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[San Diego Natural History Museum: Collections Care & Conservation]
How do we make them last?

First we have to understand what causes specimens to deteriorate.

Then we figure out ways to prevent the causes.

We practice preventive conservation.

metal cases that protect mammal collection
Caring for Collections

We practice preventive conservation.
That is, we conserve our specimens through prevention. We try to prevent anything that will cause specimens to deteriorate rapidly.

We prepare specimens using inert materials.

We avoid using chemicals that will react with the natural components of the specimen.

For example, instead of using pesticides in cabinets to control pests, we follow a set of procedures to quarantine or freeze specimens.

We pay a lot of attention to the quality of the storage room.

  • We eliminate extremes in temperature and relative humidity.
  • We have good filtration on air handling systems to eliminate particulates.
  • We filter ultraviolet light and limit visible and infrared light waves.
  • We have secure rooms that are accessible only by staff and visitors with

We pay a lot of attention to the quality of the storage furniture.

This steel cabinet has tight seals that improve protection against water, fire, dust, particulates and pests. The white drawers make it easy to see signs of pest infestation should one occur. The paint used on the cabinets is specially designed to minimize vapors and reactions to airborne chemicals.

The boxes and padding material are all inert.

We also develop procedures that help reduce damage to the specimens.

Procedures for packing specimens are detailed.

Procedures for transporting specimens follow general suggestions that are adapted to the individual situation.

Procedures for housekeeping that make sure food and trash are removed from spaces as soon as possible.

Preventive Conservation at the Museum--behind the scenes.
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Collections | Caring for Collections | BRCC