Tony Clarke monitoring light levels in an exhibition

Preventive Conservation 

Collection treasures can be damaged by:

  • poor environment
  • overexposure to light
  • poor storage
  • bad handling
  • insects and rodents
  • unsuitable display techniques
  • natural hazards such as fire, flood, earthquake, and tsunami.

Repairing damage to a collection item is usually very time consuming and expensive. Wherever possible, Te Papa staff try to reduce the causes of damage and to slow the rate of deterioration. This is called preventive conservation. The preventive conservator attempts to predict potential causes of damage and help Te Papa take precautions to avoid them.

Environmental conditions are constantly monitored to reduce damage from light, heat, and moisture. Pest damage is prevented by monitoring incoming collections, display materials, and objects for any insects that may be present, and monitoring the building itself and its storerooms for rodents. Should an unforeseen event occur (such as a burst water pipe or insect infestation), equipment and materials are available for immediate remedial action to avoid or reduce any damage.
 
Te Papa’s collections continue to grow each year. As items are acquired, their condition is assessed. Existing collections are gradually being surveyed so their conservation and preservation needs are known and prioritised programmes can be developed.