Contributions to the AICCM National Conference 2013, Adelaide 23-25 October
The presence of hazardous substances in museum collections is a well-known problem and historically many inorganic materials such as arsenic, mercury and lead, were incorporated into collections as pest prevention systems. Methyl bromide fumigation was commonly used in the late twentieth century, leaving inorganic bromide residues. The large number of items in modern museum collections makes it impracticable to test every item for these hazards. Museum Victoria’s Materials Population Profiling Project is designed to overcome this problem by surveying a semi-random selection of collection items, using XRF analysis. By dividing the collection into groups by material type and date of acquisition it is possible to identify specific groups of collection materials with higher levels of inorganic hazards by object, material type and date range. These results have enabled us to flag high hazard groups with in the collection. The data has been uploaded into the Museum’s collection database EMu. This project has required collaboration between conservation staff, collection managers and curatorial staff and is having significant impact on the policy and procedures of Museum Victoria.
Keywords: hazardous substances, inorganic pesticides, XRF analysis, Indigenous Collection, hazard survey, museum collections