Fire, water, dust and mould can all badly damage collection materials. While a damaged item may never look new again, it is possible to preserve what remains.
Here are a few things to consider:
Attend to damaged material as quickly as possible, but never try to save possessions at the expense of your own or others' safety - evacuate as necessary and wait until danger zones have been cleared by emergency personnel
Health and safety hazards remain present after a disaster has ended - flood waters can contain waste matter and disease, burned structures may contain asbestos and chemical residues, and mould may be growing in areas that were recently wet
Wear protective clothing, gloves, eye protection and masks to minimise risks to your health and safety when salvaging damaged material
Minimise handling of damaged materials to prevent rubbing dirt further into fragile surfaces
Support weakened items in plastic containers or cardboard boxes
Keep dirty items separate from other materials, as soot, dirt and mould can easily be transferred to uncontaminated material.
Conservation of Museum, Gallery and Historical Society Collections
As a result of the 2012 bushfires, Arts Victoria has an established protocol for immediate responses to disasters impacting collections of cultural heritage. Three peak bodies are signatories to this protocol: