Sally's on-the-road diary - March 2014 

I hope you have all had a wonderful break, that your batteries are recharged, and that you’re raring to go for another fun-packed year.

It has been a couple of months since my last on-the-road diary, however, as you can imagine, the Christmas and New Year periods are not the best times to get out and about visiting and meeting with museums and galleries. Over the last couple of months I’ve had the chance to attend one of our crating workshops while meeting up with our team in the Wellington office. I also completed an Expert Knowledge Exchange in the Waikato area and responded to many interesting enquiries.

Pierre and Paul showing the group the different types of crates and considerations required when building, loading, etc

In the lead up to Christmas, the National Services Te Paerangi team hosted a large number of attendees at a crating workshop. A special thanks must go out to the Te Papa object support team and crating experts Pierre Lagace and Paul Solly for facilitating this training.

The key aspects covered during this workshop were designing a crate for transportation and storage, deciding what kind of crate works best for different types of collection items and transit situations, and fitting out crates for safe transportation and easy unpacking/repacking. We also looked at how to construct crates and what their limitations and risks might be. 

During the workshop, Pierre and Paul took us through a comprehensive presentation with loads of helpful handouts. Near the end of the day, the group got the chance to take a tour, to view the crate-building workshop, and inspect and ask questions about crated items in the collection areas. It was wonderful to see a few crates in progress and to be able to talk as a group about the specific requirements that each item might need. What a wonderful conclusion to the day.

Paul showing us a painting crate and space required                     

Checking out the workshop and the types of equipment

Throughout the day, we were provided with many helpful resources showing specifications – with detailed drawings for paintings crates, and top loading and open crates, to name a few. Pierre and Paul also made available spreadsheet calculators, which work out the amount of material required and the specific internal space dimensions.

If you or one of your team is interested in receiving a copy of these resources or finding out more, please contact me or feel free to call our 0508 helpline or email.

Additional workshop information

For those of you that missed the opportunity to attend one of the North Island Handling and Packaging Museum Objects workshops presented by Trish Nugent-Lyne, Collection Manager at the WhanganuiRegionalMuseum, you may be interested in referring to Trish’s PowerPoint presentation and all the relevant resources on our website.

Visit our Resources section 

There are a number of workshops coming up, including a series covering the all important topic of Fundraising: the full picture, and a Museum and Gallery Retailers Forum. To find out more about National Services Te Paerangi and other organisations’ workshops, events, and conferences check out our calendar.

We look forward to hearing from you and finding out what workshop topics your region or cluster of museums are interested in. Perhaps you have organised or have heard of a museum or gallery-related training opportunity that others need to know about. If so, please let us know by calling our freephone helpline 0508 NSTP HELP (0508 678 743) or emailing natserv@tepapa.govt.nz.  

Caring for sound recordings

In the last month or so I’ve received a number of enquiries. One of these was about the care and handling of sound recordings, including old 78 records. I thought it might be interesting and helpful to add some of this information to my diary. Please note this isn’t a complete guide, so for more detailed information please consult a conservator, or contact National Services Te Paerangi or the National Preservation Office.

Sound recordings are found almost everywhere and in a wide range of formats: wax or vinyl cylinders, LPs, 45s, 78s, 8-tracks, cassettes, and CDs. All formats are subject to deterioration over time – how quickly this happens is largely due to the ways in which they are handled, used, and stored.

Causes of damage

Sound recordings can suffer chemical, mechanical, or physical damage. Poor handling and repeated playing (except for CDs), especially on equipment that is dirty or in poor condition, are the main causes of damage. Extremes or fluctuations in heat and humidity can also be detrimental.

Dust, debris, and oil and dirt from hands can all lead to playability problems. Magnetic forces (from televisions, speakers, magnets, vacuum cleaners, etc) that are too strong or too close may cause trouble for tapes.

Handling

Wash hands to remove natural oils and dirt before handling sound recordings. Although it may be impractical, the best way to pick up recordings is to wear cotton gloves. Handle all recordings in disc format by the edge and centre hole.  Pick up cassettes by the outer shells or cases, taking care to avoid contact with the exposed tape.

Store recordings upright (if they are laid flat, they may warp), in a stable environment where heat and humidity remain constant and there is no prolonged exposure to strong light. Keep tapes at least 75 millimetres (7.5 centimetres | 3 inches) away from magnetic sources and do not store them next to stereo speakers or under television sets. CDs should be stored in plastic jewel cases and not in plastic or paper sleeves. For CDs that will be handled often, the cases should be made of polypropylene (polypropylene is recommended over polystyrene because it is less brittle and, therefore, less prone to crack).

Keep food, drink, and dust away from recordings; if they contaminate the equipment they could damage the media or disrupt their playability.

In museum collections, you are likely to have a number of the following types of recordings in your collection. Below is a quick guide to their key care, handling, and storage requirements:

Magnetic tapes

These include audio-reel tape and cassettes, videotape, and computer tape.

Care and handling

  • All tapes should be handled with care as they are easily damaged by physical and magnetic forces.
  • Avoid exposing tapes to direct sunlight and keep them away from heat sources.
  • Keep tapes away from magnetic field sources.
  • Avoid violent vibrations or shock.
  • Avoid stacking tapes.
  • Avoid touching tape with your fingers.
    • Do not leave tapes out of their containers when not in use. This includes leaving tapes in or on the tape recorder.


    Storage

  • Store cassettes and videotapes in rewound condition.
  • Store reel tapes ‘tails out’ (with the end of the tape at the beginning of the reel, that is, in the ‘played’ state) at an even tension, such as the ‘play’ tension, on a tape recorder.
  • Shelve tapes upright in individual boxes.
  • Replace damaged boxes and spools.
  • Keep the storage environment free of contaminants such as food, drink, smoke, and dust.
    • Magnetic tape is sensitive to rapidly changing climatic conditions.  The climate must be stable and ideally kept at about 18 to 20 degrees Celsius and 40 percent relative humidity.

Discs

These include lacquer discs, 78 rpm shellac discs, vinyl discs, and compact discs.

Care and handling

  • Remove any manufacturer's sealed cellophane wrapping from the disc as the tension of the wrapping may warp it.
  • Avoid touching the grooves with your fingers. Handle discs by label and outer edges. Ideally, clean cotton gloves should be worn.
  • Replace damaged or mouldy record jackets and inner sleeves. It is good to try and keep associated material together, but if this isn’t possible then it would be ideal to keep a record – perhaps some photos of the original jacket.
  • Keep discs in their jackets or enclosures when not in use.
  • Do not expose discs to physical hazards. These include sources of heat, direct sunlight, uneven surfaces, or the floor.
    • Clean dirty items before putting them into storage. Discs should be cleaned with a soft, clean cloth working in a circular motion in the direction of the grooves. CDs should also be cleaned with a soft clean cloth but from the centre of the disc to the outer edge.

Storage

  • Store discs in archival (acid-free) sleeves and jackets. The inner sleeve opening should be at the top.
  • Store discs vertically on shelves with rigid dividers between them at 7 to 10 centimetre intervals to support the discs and prevent slipping and slanting.
  • Keep the storage environment free of contaminants such as food, drink, smoke, and dust.


Wax cylinders

Wax cylinders are very fragile and handling should be kept to a minimum. They are susceptible to mould growth and should be kept in constant cool and dry conditions.

For additional sound-recording information, check out these helpful links online, contact the National Preservation Office or consult a conservator:


I have also fielded a few enquiries over the last few months about how to find a conservator. The New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials Pū Manaaki Kahurangi (NZCCM) has a great website with a directory of New Zealand conservators. This directory enables you to search for the type of specialist conservator you might be looking for. For example, perhaps you have a textile in your collection that you have some concerns about. This directory enables you to select a specialisation, in this instance, textiles, and it will list all conservators who specialise in the conservation of textiles. 

The NZCCM website also has a host of helpful information including how to choose a conservator and what to expect. It has listed suppliers and links to helpful websites that have resources and templates. It also has a page dedicated to disaster recovery, with contact information. 

Visit the NZCCM website

You will also find a list of National Organisations in the front of your Museums Aotearoa Directory of New ZealandMuseums and Galleries – you’ll find our team listed in there, alongside many other helpful organisations and services providers.

Please remember National Services Te Paerangi is here to help. We can provide advice and guidance or perhaps we can connect you with an industry expert who can provide information and support. We are just a phone call or email away.

If you have any questions on a museum, a gallery, or iwi matters, or are unable to locate the information, services, or resources you need, please feel free to call our freephone helpline 0508 NSTP HELP (0508 678 743) or email natserv@tepapa.govt.nz

Ngā mihi, nā

Sally August