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Jun 20, 2018

The Art of Preserving Antiquities

The National Institute of Culture and History through the Museum of Belize, in cooperation with the Science Museum of Minnesota is hosting a three-day workshop that concluded today. The training workshop called “Collections Management and Disaster Preparedness and Recovery,” taught collectors and custodians about the basics of collections management, as well as to equip them with disaster preparedness and recovery tools for the safeguarding of their artifacts and other valuables.  On Tuesday, we stopped in at the workshop to find out more about the training. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting                                           

Museums in Belize conserve wide collections of artifacts and other objects including tools, ceramics, books, paintings, and other works that are of cultural and historical value. But taking care of these important antiquities and pieces of our heritage is no easy task – and so today custodians of these artifacts, as well as private collectors, are learning how to manage their collections better by cataloguing. Often times, museums and other display galleries don’t get to display or use their artifacts for teaching because they are inaccessible due to space, lack of information and records, and so on, but this system will help to identify and label the items.

 

Alexis Salazar

Alexis Salazar, Director, Museum of Belize

“Some of them talked about what they learnt about cataloguing and what they plan to do when they go back to their private collections. We learnt the difference between provenance and providence, the history of artifacts, where it was stored and who owns it and so on. So, it helps also because we have our own collections manager who will be using some of these things to catalogue the artifacts that are under our jurisdiction.”

 

Rebecca Newberry

Rebecca Newberry, Conservator, Science Museum of Minnesota

“One of the things we really focusing on this year is collections management; so knowing what you have, knowing that you can legally have that thing, knowing where it is, keeping good records and documentation on what that object is and what it means so that you can keep the information on the object together. Also for you to know how to prevent that from getting damaged; making sure things are stored well, they are displayed well and making sure that you are keeping track of them and the area they are stored are clean so that you can  preserve the collection for as long as possible.”

 

For the Museum of Belize and its sister agencies, there are strict protocols that are followed when preserving artifacts. The training aims to strengthen the agencies’ disaster preparedness plans so they can better safeguard and recover these invaluable pieces during times of disasters.

 

Alexis Salazar

“We have started to follow certain protocols on how we move artifacts and how we store them. The museum, we have slowly been investing in the standard cabinets that we use and then building the actual frames for storing these artifacts. It is a learning experience for us because we are a relatively new museum and a relatively new institution when compared to Archaeology and so on. So, I think exercises like these serve as a refresher for my staff and it helps us also to see where we are following behind when it comes to museum standards.”

 

Rebecca Newberry

“One of the main things for storage is to make sure you have a secured place to keep something and that the secured place is protected from the elements. So, you are not gonna keep something outside if you can keep something inside; you are not gonna keep it in a basement or up in the attic in your home, that you will keep it in the middle part of your home where it is more protected. If you are gonna air condition the space where it is stored in, you want to make sure that you air condition it all time because going from the heat of not air conditioning and to an air conditioned environment is really stressful for an object to get cooled down, heated up and humidified all the time. So, especially in a storage environment if you can’t air conditioned all the time, we recommend not air conditioning at all and using ventilations such as fans to move the air around to keep things at a steady  temperature and humidity.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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