Friday, 20 February 2015

Biscuit Beetles and Biscuits

Destroying dust, battling biscuit beetles, slaying silverfish, and starting a war on woodworm! Just a few of the pests and hazards we were learning about at our training yesterday with the nemesis of the pest world, Jane Thompson Webb, from the Birmingham Museums Trust. We examined close-ups of the adult and larvae phases of insects and identified the damage they cause, including the destruction done to original William Morris wallpaper, not Morris paper from Wightwick Manor we hasten to add!

The training took place at the National Brewery Centre (with the wonderful perfume of hops permeating the air), with a great group of museum professionals, all on a mission to identify ways to improve conservation practices at our organisations. Stopping for the occasional biscuit and tea break, naturally.

We identified silk webs and the size of bore holes in wooden objects, scratches and eroded surfaces, gritty frass (excrement!) and the skins of larvae. These are all signs of an infestation and are associated with predominantly warm, damp and dark environments which might be found in a museum.

Examining old pest damage on a toy kangaroo from the nursery at Wightwick Manor. It has already been treated and is in a stable condition, so it can continue to hop!

This all shows that keeping a close eye on your collections is important; something we also learned at Attingham Park. At Attingham we undertook audited inventory training which links to the National Trust collections management system, learning more about documenting and monitoring collection objects, their condition, where they can be found in the house and if they have gone away for an exhibition.

We have both had a very productive couple of weeks and have some exciting things to post about in our next blog!

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