From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Artifacts Get a Freezing Treatment at Starr Family Home

By Jeff Campbell, Starr Family Home State Historic Site staff

Why would a historic house or museum need a walk-in freezer? A house museum is not in the grocery or restaurant business, however, a freezer is important for a different reason. It is used to kill insects and microorganisms in rugs, curtains, books, and other textile or paper artifacts.

Freezing is preferred over traditional methods, which can cause a number of problems for both the artifact and the museum staff. The chemicals contained in pesticides can damage the artifact and fumigants can induce chemical changes. These chemicals can also result in short-term or long-term health problems for museum staff. Once the chemically treated artifact is back on display, it could also affect the health of museum guests. Using the freezer eliminates the potential for all these situations.

At Starr Family Home State Historic Site, artifacts are first wrapped in plastic and then sealed with tape, to keep moisture out.

They are then stored and frozen for at least two weeks at a temperature of –10 degrees. This temperature and time frame will ensure that all insects and microorganisms present in the artifacts are eliminated.

Some artifacts are not suited for the freezing process. Artifacts containing plastic can become brittle. Metal and glass should not be frozen because they are non-absorbent materials. Also, artifacts that contain glue or finished surfaces, such as lacquered wooden objects or finished furniture, should not be frozen as their materials may react differently.

In the future, the freezer will be an asset not only for Starr Family Home but also the East Texas museum community. If any other museum would like to use the Starr Family Home freezer, please contact Site Manager Whit Edwards.

Starr Family Home is located in Marshall on the corner of Travis and S. Grove streets in the Texas Forest Trail Region.

No comments:

Post a Comment