Conservation FAQ

Where is the best place to display and store artefacts in my home?

Providing a stable environment in your home is one of the best ways that you can preserve your artefacts. Museum’s and galleries work hard to provide regulated temperature, relative humidity and lighting conditions so that they can provide the best long-term preservation conditions for their collections.

Wherever possible store your artefacts in a central area of your house. This buffers them from the extremes of temperature and relative humidity changes which can be experienced near external walls, heaters, air-conditioning ducts, windows and in direct sunlight.

Do not expose your artefacts to direct sunlight as this can cause irreversible damage. Consider displaying your artefact for short periods, lighting only when necessary.

Aim to maintain a dust-free environment as dust particles can actively cause damage to your artefacts as well as encourage mould growth and insect attack.

Display your artefacts in protected areas, such as against internal walls that are away from thoroughfares. Good ventilation will help to ensure that mould outbreaks do not occur. Ensure that mounts or hanging systems are secure and do not cause damage to the artefact.  Seek the advice of a conservator if you are not sure of the best display system for your artefact.

Store your artefacts in protected areas, such as inside cupboards and archival boxes, and check them regularly for any changes.

Do not excessively handle your artefacts. When handling wear clean cotton, latex or nitrile gloves. Do not handle metals with your bare hands, as this will cause pitting corrosion.

Consult a conservator if you have any questions about the display and storage of your artefacts.


How do I care for bark paintings?

Display and store your bark painting in the most environmentally stable area of your house - i.e. away from external walls, heaters, air-conditioning ducts, windows and direct sunlight.

Bark paintings can be vulnerable to splitting and warping and this is often caused by expansion and shrinking of the bark when exposed to rapid changes in relative humidity. Bark paintings are also vulnerable to insect attack and need to be checked regularly. Display and storage in environmentally stable areas will reduce the risk of this damage.

The hanging system used to display your bark painting should provide adequate support without restriction. Do not try to restrict the movement of the bark with hanging systems such as ‘crossbars’ as this can cause cracking and twisting.

Bark paintings are best stored flat and should not be stacked.

Consult a  conservator if your bark painting is powdering or flaking or you have any questions about display and care.


Should I polish silver?

Silver will naturally develop a dark inert patina (tarnish). If you prefer your silver to have a shiny appearance then gentle cleaning can be carried out.

Only polish your silver when absolutely necessary. Be aware that each time you polish tiny amounts of silver are worn from the surface. Do not polish routinely as this will wear down the silver layer.

Proprietary silver cloths can be useful for removing light tarnish and contain corrosion inhibitors that delay further tarnishing. A proprietary silver foam can be used to clean more heavily tarnished pieces.

Avoid abrasive and aggressive cleaners as they can damage and reduce the surface of your silver piece.

Display and store your silver in environmentally stable areas of your house away from sulphur-containing materials, such as wool and rubber, and away from timbers with noticeable aromas, such as oak.

Consult a conservator if your silver is showing signs of plating damage and corrosion or if you have any questions about display and care.


How do I care for my wedding dress/christening gown?

When seeking to preserve garments such as wedding dresses and christening gowns it is important to ensure that they are clean and well stored.

Marks and stains from wear can cause irreversible damage and encourage insect attack. A professional dry cleaner should be engaged to clean strong garments but if the item is fragile or you are unsure then the advice of a Textile Conservator could be sought. Similarly, it is advised that you consult a Textile Conservator if you plan to wash your garment or if it requires repairs. Washing may lead to shrinking, the bleeding of dyes, or the disintegration of fabric.

Store your garments in a dust-free area, either by using a dust cover or archival box. Do not stack your garments on top of each other. Gently pad out the garment with crumpled acid-free tissue to prevent fibre splitting along folds and creases.

Consult a conservator if you have any questions about textile display and care.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.