Session S2b (Monday, 9:30am, CHEM 102)

P115: Knocking on museum doors: Plastic conservation work with undergraduate collaborators

JoAnn Peters (Central Washington University, USA)

Through a research leave in the conservation labs at the Royal British Columbia Museum, the author became familiar with an urgent need to identify cellulose nitrate and other “malignant” plastics in museum collections.  This has led to a collaborative project with the Yakima Valley Museum in nearby Yakima, Washington.  The author, assisted by undergraduate students, is working with museum staff to identify plastic materials in the museum collection.  Testing involves minimally destructive sampling procedures and analysis through chemical spot tests, as well as infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR).   Sampling is carried out at the museum, with samples brought back to the university laboratories for testing.  The author has found that the project is wonderfully suited to training undergraduates with an interest in science, can be carried out at minimal expense, and is of real interest to museum professionals.


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