By Rob Lavinsky via Wikimedia CommonsCare & Conservation of Geological Material
Presented by Caroline Buttler, Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales

A two day workshop designed to give an overview for museum professionals on the care and conservation of geological collections, including fossils, minerals and rocks.

The goal of the workshop is to make participants aware of how to care for geological collections, to prevent damage and identify risks to this material. We will also aim to provide an understanding of the major conservation needs and show how to recognise signs of deterioration.

The format for the two days will be lectures on specific topics with group discussions, activities in small groups and practical examinations of objects.

Topics covered over the two days will include:

  • Introduction to the types of material found in geological collections
  • The effects of the environment on geological collections
  • How to recognise environmental damage and prevent it
  • Awareness of hazardous specimens in geological collections
  • Assessing collections
  • Deciding conservation priorities
  • The use of microclimates for geological specimens
  • When and how to clean geological material

Fossils, minerals and rocks from the collections in Melbourne Museum will be used to demonstrate the topics discussed so that everyone will be able to see, touch and smell real specimens. Examples of deterioration will be shown to demonstrate examples of damage.

Methods of preventing the deterioration of collections will be examined including the use of low humidity and anoxic microclimates. Practical assessments of museum specimens will be undertaken leading onto group discussions of how to decide conservation priorities. We will discuss when to clean geological material and how, followed by an opportunity to try out methods.

Please note registration is limited to 14 participants

Presenter Biography

Caroline Buttler PhD, ACR is the Head of Palaeontology at Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales (AC-NMW) with over 25 years of museum experience. She is currently responsible for the management and development of the palaeontology section of AC-NMW, including collections care, research and public engagement.

Caroline has a degree in geology from the University of Liverpool, an MSc in palaeontology at the University of Manitoba, Canada, and a PhD at the University of Wales, Swansea. After a research fellowship at Trinity College, Dublin, she joined AC-NMW as geological conservator and subsequently became the Senior Natural Science conservator. Caroline is an accredited conservator and acts as an Institute of Conservation mentor for conservators working towards PACR accreditation.

Caroline has delivered workshops on conservation and undertaken the training of natural science conservators from a variety of institutions in the United Kingdom and Europe. She has published on a variety of aspects of natural science conservation and co-edited a book on museum conservation “Things fall apart – museum conservation in practice”.

As a member of the Palaeontological Association Council, Caroline currently holds the position of Education Officer. She has co-ordinated outreach events for the Association and organised the annual meeting of this international organisation. She is currently a member of the Lapworth Museum University of Birmingham Museum advisory committee.

Caroline is also a recognised expert on Palaeozoic bryozoans, in particular trepostomes, with research and publications focused on their taxonomy and biogeography.

Provisional outline of workshop

Thursday 7th April

Brief introduction to the types of material found in geological collections — presentation
Agents of deterioration overview — Group discussion & presentation
Environmental effects on geological collections & how to recognise them — presentation
Activity — object discussion
Awareness of hazardous specimens in geological collections — presentation
Other hazards with geological collections & how to mitigate them — group discussions
Deciding conservation priorities – group discussions
Assessing collections – presentation
Surveying geological collections – practical
Feedback from practical – group discussion

Friday 8th April

What are microclimates? – presentation
Why are they needed for geological material? – presentation & group discussion
Different types of microclimates & what materials are used to make them – presentation
Adhesives and consolidants used in geological collections – presentation
Examples of adhesives and consolidants – object discussion
When should geological material be cleaned – group discussion
Cleaning methods – presentation & practical
Final feedback – group discussion

Morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch will be provided. 

Registration details and key dates   

  • AICCM Member Early Bird Registration (closes 4th March 2016) $420.00
  • AICCM Member Late Registration (after 4th March 2016) $520.00
  • Non Member Registration $570.00
  • Student/Concession Registration $220.00