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Conservation Advice - Packing Museum Objects

Packing Museum Objects

Snowshill Manor NT

Image credit: Emily Nisbet-Hawkins

Why do we need to pack museum objects?

Generally museum objects are packed for either transport or for long term storage. In both instances the main aim is to keep the objects safe from damage, clean and protect from fluctuating environmental conditions and pests.

What is the purpose of packing materials?

Surface protection – to protect items from interacting or rubbing against each other should be box they are store in be moved around or is being transported off site
Shock protection – especially when the objects are in transit
Insulation – from changes in external temperature
Moisture absorbing buffer – from changes in external relative humidity
Fill the voids of the box and cushion the object inside
Light in weight – so not to add additional weight to your boxes

It is very important that the material you use to pack your museum object will not cause any long term deterioration, especially as many stored items will be there for an indeterminate amount of time. Packing material should therefore be carefully selected.

Suitable Packing Materials

Image credit: Arundel Museum

Suitable packing materials

  •  Acid free tissue / card
  •  Polyester film (Secol, Mylar, Melinex)
  •  Inert foam (Plastazote, Ethafoam, Jiffy Foam)
  •  Unbleached and un-dyed cotton or calico
  •  Tyvek
  •  Correx
  •  Heat bonded Polyester Wadding
  •  Bubble wrap (short term only)
  •  Polythene (short term only)

Unsuitable Packing Materials

  •  Non-Acid free tissue / card
  •  Newspaper
  •  Biodegradable packing peanuts
  •  PVC
  •  Dyed textiles
  •  Woollen textiles
  •  Cotton wool
  •  Pressure sensitive adhesive tapes (sellotape etc)

There are many different process for packing different types of objects. Here is some information to get you started:

Making bespoke boxes

How to make tissue puffs

Packing Case Study - from The Historic Dockyard Chatham

Conservation suplies

Generic Object Movement Forms