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Type, Figured, and Historic Collections
All museum collections
require periodic maintenance. The diverse origins of our
collections create challenging problems with respect to their curation.
Current efforts include major conservation within the type collection as part of one NSF project and within the historic collection as part of another NSF project.
Many fossils collected about 100 years ago were coated in shellac, or equivalent. The technique was common at the time and produced an impressive glossy surface and in some instances even prevented the specimens from falling apart. The practice, however, has left us with a conservation issue. What should we do with aging, discolored, often cracking fossils that were chemically treated in this way? Follow our progress as we try to tackle this challenge with this first experiment!
Here are some other issues with glimpses of how they are being addressed, initially with the help of
a previous IMLS project.
Images of historical publications with current status images illustrating deterioration. The first example is a specimen originally coated in shellac, now cracked and damaged the underlying fossil.
Fabienne Grellet-Tinner, when an undergraduate, cleaning and repairing damaged specimens.