How can I care for metal objects?

Environmental factors such as heat and moisture (resulting from 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.

Different metals react in different ways, so it is always useful to know which kind of metal you are dealing with. In storage, it is generally best to keep metal objects together and 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).

Learn more about how to care for metal objects:

Resources

Recognizing Metals and their corrosion products

(Canadian Conservation Institute)
web

CCI Notes

(Canadian Conservation Institute)
web

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

file

Hazardous Objects in Museums

(Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ)
file

Types and Causes of Deterioration

(Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ)
file

 Photo: Copyright Royal BC Museum.