The Preventive Conservation Staff
Light, humidity, temperature, pollutants, pests and even humans themselves can cause objects to deteriorate. While conservators often have difficult challenges in stabilizing objects once they are damaged, they also set great store by the adage that “an ounce of preservation is worth a pound of cure” and put an equal amount of effort into trying to prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
At Colonial Williamsburg, much of this work is carried out by the Preventive Conservation Team, which includes the Historic Interior Collections Care (HICC) staff. Their primary work is done outside the lab: in Historic Area buildings, the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and collections storage areas. They clean, check for pests and track environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature and light levels. They work with the Historic Architectural Resources department to ensure that all is well in the historic structures and collaborate with Facilities Maintenance to ensure that the best possible environment is maintained in Colonial Williamsburg’s historic houses and museums. They make realistic artificial food to use on historic tables, enabling the Foundation to talk about food ways in the past without attracting pests in the present! Preventive Conservation Team members also help curators install exhibits and design and build customized containers to protect objects in storage or when shipping loans to other museums.