Caring for metal, glass and stone 

'Peep Egg' souvenir circa 1860. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa
'Peep Egg' souvenir circa 1860. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

How can I care for metal objects?

Environmental factors such as light, heat, and moisture (caused by changing temperatures) can cause metal objects to corrode. It is important that metals are displayed and stored in an environment that is well ventilated and has a stable temperature. Salts and oils from hands can cause long-term damage to metals, so handle objects wearing nitrile or vinyl gloves, or with clean bare hands.

Different metals react in different ways, so it is always useful to know which kind of metal you are dealing with. In storage, keep metal objects together and try to keep them away from wood objects or furniture because these can give off acidic vapours.

Ideally, objects should be kept off the floor and stored on metal rather than wood shelving. Particularly large objects should be placed on top of a metal pallet with a separation layer, rather than directly onto the floor. You can also use a plastic pallet, but avoid PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Read more about how to care for metal objects:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (PDF, 253kB)

Hazardous objects in museums (DOC, 48.5kB)

Types and causes of deterioration (DOC, 82kB)

How can I care for glass objects?

span lang="EN-NZ">Glass and ceramic objects are very brittle so need to be handled carefully. It is best to handle or move glass objects as little as possible in order to minimise risk. Handling can cause surface discolouration or smudging, so use clean, bare hands or tight fitting nitrile gloves (cotton gloves can lead to slipping). Always lift an object from its strongest point, rather than from its handles or other protrusions that might break off.

span lang="EN-NZ">When moving or storing an object, make sure that it is well padded and secured in a tray or container, and kept in an area where it won’t be knocked over by passers-by. Similarly, if an item is on display, ensure that it is very securely mounted and not in an area where visitors can accidentally nudge it.

Read more about how to care for glass objects:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Words (PDF, 253kB)

Canadian Conservation Institute

How can I care for stone objects?

 Like glass items, objects made of stone are very brittle and prone to breakage, so need to be stored, displayed, and handled very carefully. When keeping an item in storage or moving it, make sure that it is well padded and securely fastened so that it cannot roll over or be dropped. To prevent accidental breakage, try to handle or move stone items only when absolutely necessary.

When displaying stone items, make sure they are in a securely positioned and not in a location where visitors can inadvertently cause damage by touching or knocking them.

Wear gloves when handling stone objects, and always be sure to lift things from their strongest point rather than from handles or other protrusions. Don’t ever try to lift a heavy object on your own: get someone to help you and use a trolley when necessary. Be mindful that some stone objects can be potentially toxic, so know your objects and collections well!

If your stone objects are taonga Māori (Māori treasures), make sure to seek advice from an iwi (tribal) representative who can advise you how to properly care for and display them.

Read more about how to care for stone objects:

American National Park Service, Museum Management Program (PDF, 598kB)

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