The Collections Services Department of the Science Museum of Minnesota is committed to the preservation of collections for scientific research and public display.
The conservation program cares for the entire range of collections, which vary greatly from ethnographic textiles to dinosaurs, from bird skins and eggs to stone tools and metals, and from specimens stored in alcohol to mounted insects. Collections care at the Science Museum focuses on preventing damage to the collections. This entails such things as modifying environmental and physical conditions, improving storage and exhibition techniques, and implementing other procedures to protect the collections. Intervening treatments are done minimally and only when needed. The current facility has improved the department’s ability to care for the collection by providing state-of-the-art environmental and storage systems and a spacious Conservation Lab.
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Agents of Deterioration
The collections at the Science Museum of Minnesota are very diverse any way you look at them. There are 1.75 million objects ranging from dinosaurs to butterflies, canoes to Pre-Colombian ceramics. In the Collections Services Department, we are most likely to approach objects from a materials viewpoint. We study the material (i.e. stone, glass, hide, wood, etc.) from which an object is made. With human-made artifacts, we also study how the object is made. By understanding the material or materials of which an object is made, we can plan how best to store and display it and make informed decisions on its preservation.
Everything falls apart eventually. In the field of conservation, we try to prevent this eventual deterioration.