August 15, 2014     
Northern States Conservation CenterNorthern States
Conservation Center

The Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter

Collection Management

In This Issue
See Something, Say Something
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
Submissions and Comments
Introduction to Museum Databases
Introduction to Metals
New Pathways
September 2014 Courses
Upcoming Classes

August 18, 2014


MS008: Buy In: Getting All of Staff to Support Preservation   


September 1, 2014


MS214: Collection Management Databases    


MS204: Materials for Storage and Display   


MS242: Museum Microclimates  


MS106: Exhibit Fundamentals: Ideas to Installation On-line Course


MS223: Care of Metals                                              

MS243: Making Museum Quality Mannequins    


MS205/6: Disaster Plan Research and Writing          


September 8, 2018


MS010: Condition Assessments Short Course

October 6, 2014


MS250: Building and Maintaining an Engaged Nonprofit Board of Directors


MS227: Care of Paintings


MS209: Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions


MS238: Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts


MS210: Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives


MS109: Museum Management


October 13, 2014


MS014: Education Collections Short Course


October 20, 2014


MS001: The Problem with Plastics Short Course

See Something, Say Something

By Steve Layne and Peggy Schaller


With all the conflicts in the Middle East and around the world; the threat of domestic and international terrorism; and increasing domestic violence, it is critical that we all be aware of our surroundings. As unpleasant as these issues are to contemplate everyone involved in the protection of public institutions and their collections needs to be alert for suspicious persons and activities, including some who may be in our workforce.  Remind others to "See Something, Say Something!"  This means if you see ANY thing out of order or hear anything which touches on subversive activity, write it down and report it, now!  This applies in your workplace and any public space including schools, public transportation, and airports. The more people who are aware of their surroundings, the more chance we have of preventing a violent incident.


Think about a security awareness briefing for all staff, volunteers, and even regular contractors for your institution.  Make sure that everyone has the tools to be aware and react proactively to any suspicious activity. It's never too early (hopefully not too late) to begin development of a disaster preparedness element in your emergency operations plan. Be prepared and don't let a simple incident turn into a disaster.


To learn more visit the Homeland Security website at  


Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of The Cultural Property Protection Manual, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site Layne Consultants International.

Peggy Schaller, founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. Peggy, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has a bachelor's degree in anthropology with minors in art history and geology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has a master's degree in anthropology with a minor in museum studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a Certified Institutional Protection Manager II. She provides workshops and project services to museums and historical societies all across the country. The mission of Collections Research for Museums is to inspire museums to improve their professional standards, collections stewardship and service to their constituency through training in, and assistance with, documenting, preserving, protecting and managing their collections. For more information visit her web site Collections Research for Museums. Peggy is also the Publications Manager and Certificate Program Coordinator for Northern States Conservation Center and

Preservation Guide 7: Silver

Preservation Guide 7: Silver

Author: the Historic New Orleans Collection. Preservation Guides by the Historic New Orleans Collection provide clear, in-depth collection care advice. Each guide has illustrative photographs and drawings 

 Preservation Guide 7: Silver  




Tech Bulletin #16 Care and Preservation of Firearms

Tech Bulletin #16 Care and Preservation of Firearms

Author: Philip R. White. Offers guidelines on the care of firearms to curators, conservators, and others. Topics covered include deterioration, examination, handling, conservation, and storage of firearms. A glossary is included as well as a bibliography for further research on the subject.

Tech Bulletin #16 Care and Preservation of Firearms



Regional Workshops 


Where you can find some of our instructors this year: 


John Simmons
Philadelphia History Museum
  • "Exhibitions for Cultural Institutions" (with Julianne Snider), 07 October 2014

Forthcoming publications:

  • "Foundations of Museum Studies: Evolving Systems of Knowledge" with Dr. Kiersten F. Latham
  • "Fluid Preservation: A Comprehensive Reference"
  • "Collection Care and Management" in "Museum Practice," edited by Conal McCarthy
Karin Hostetter

National Association for Interpretation 

  • Volunteers in Special Niches, Sept. 16, 2014, 1 - 2 pm (Mountain) a webinar for the National Association for Interpretation on how to recruit, train and reward volunteers. 

National Association for Interpretation, Denver, CO 

  • Professional Development Ascends to New Heights, November 18, 2014 (co-presenting with Peggy Schaller)

Steve Layne 

American Association for State & Local History, St Paul, MN   
  • Special Events Security Friday, September 19, 2014, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. 
Western Museums Association, Las Vegas, NV
  • We Don't Have Uniformed Security Staff - How Can We Be Safe?, Sunday, October 5, 2014, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.  Hosted by the Hispanic Museum of Nevada 

International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, Orlando, FL   

  • Your Personal Safety, Monday, November 17, 2014, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
  • Emergency Operations Planning, Monday, November 17, 2014, 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. 

Peggy Schaller

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Aspen, CO 

  • Creative Collection Inventory Methods, October 1, 2014 (co-presenting with Sofia Galarza Liu)

National Association for Interpretation, Denver, CO 

  • Professional Development Ascends to New Heights, November 18, 2014 (co-presenting with Karin Hostetter)

Conferences and Meetings

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts, 2014 AASLH Annual Meeting

September 17-20, 2014, St. Paul, MN    


Mountain-Plains Museums Association Annual Meeting

September 28 - October 2, 2014, Aspen, CO


Western Museums Association Annual Meeting

October 5-8, 2014, Las Vegas, NV


Southeast Association of Museums Annual Meeting

October 20-22, 2014, Knoxville, TN


New England Association of Museums Annual Meeting

November 19-21, 2014, Cambridge, MA


National Association of Interpretation Annual Meeting

November 18-22, 2014, Denver, CO 

Submissions and Comments


How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  

If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to  


We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 


Have a comment or suggestion?   


Send it to

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About Us

Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.

Introduction to Museum Databases

By Sofia Galarza Liu and John E. Simmons





A database is a set of data that is stored in a computer system in an organized and structured system designed to allow for retrieval of data using a variety of queries.



A computerized collection database has two main functions:

It makes the collection records available for all of the uses that collection records have in a museum and in the academic field the museum is in, and

It is a valuable collection management tool. It can be used for:

  • Collection inventory
  • Loan records
  • Tracking of objects on exhibit or undergoing treatment
  • Condition reporting
  • Images of the objects
  • History of the use of the object (research, loan, exhibition)
  • Re-sorting of information (upgrading the catalog)
  • Integrated pest management (tracking outbreaks and treatments, tracking monitoring)
  • Planning for collection moves or re-housing


Historically, museums have been limited in their ability to handle information by the physical limitations of information storage and retrieval. Prior to the introduction of computers in museums, accessing museum information was labor-intensive, slow, and often inadequate (for example, the card catalog for the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York occupied a series of cabinets that were a full city block in length, but the information they contained was organized only by accession number). The introduction of computers has brought about a significant shift - museums are now seen as repositories of information as well as repositories of objects. Better access to collection information means that museums can now better fulfill their missions and serve the public.


The process of making museum information accessible electronically has not been easy and is far from over - there are still major problems stemming from the lack of standards for many types of collections. What were once idiosyncratic, specialized registration systems have all too often become idiosyncratic, specialized computer databases. Nevertheless, managing information in the museum has become as important as managing the collections, increasing the value of both the information and the objects. This has led to some interesting socio-technical interactions in museums as human beings, technology, and information all intersect.


Computerization enables more records to be manipulated faster than a manual system, but both systems depend on the quality of the data which they contain, how well defined the data fields are, and how permanent the data records are.


Computerization does not make documentation qualitatively better, but can make it quantitatively better. By making manipulation and retrieval of documentation records easier and faster, computerization can greatly enhance the management of the collection. All aspects of collections management may be enhanced by databasing the museum collection information, making it more efficient to track and locate collection objects; find and retrieve information; prepare educational programs and exhibits; conduct research; and improve collection conservation and integrated pest management.


Computerization can also be perilous, because electronic data storage enables you to loose or corrupt data faster in ways that make mistakes harder to correct than with manual systems.


Excerpt from MS214 Collection Management Databases beginning September 1, 2014.

Sofia Galarza Liu is the collection manager and database project co-manager at the Spencer Museum of Art of the University of Kansas. Ms. Liu is also an implementation consultant and educator for Zetcom Information Systems, Inc.; she provides database administrator and user training for United States MuseumPlus clients. Ms. Liu's accomplishments include completing a two-year IMLS grant funded project to digitize the Spencer Museum of Art's collections and attending Museum Leaders: the Next Generation training at the Getty Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, California. She has a B.F.A in the History of Art and a Master's degree in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas. 


John E. Simmons runs Museologica, an independent consulting company, and serves as Adjunct Curator of Collections at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery at Pennsylvania State University. He has a B.S. in Systematics and Ecology and a Master's degree in Historical Administration and Museum Studies. Simmons began his professional career as a zoo keeper, then worked as collections manager at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas, where he also served as Director of the Museum Studies Program until 2007. He received 2011 Carolyn L. Rose Award for outstanding commitment to Natural History Collections Care and Management from the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the Superior Voluntary Service Award from the American Association of Museums and the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Mentoring of Graduate Students from the University of Kansas. Simmons' publications include three books, Herpetological Collecting and Collections Management (2002), Cuidado, Manejo y Conservación de las Colecciones Biológicas (2005, with Yaneth Muñoz-Saba), and Things Great and Small: Collections Management Policies (2006). He consults, teaches, and does field work in the US, Latin America and Asia. For more information visit his web site MUSEOLOGICA  

Introduction to Metals

Written by Helen Alten

Taught by Fiona Graham 



The fire crackling in the grate is held up by metal andirons and held in place by an iron fireplace screen. Flickering light reflects off polished silver candlesticks displayed on the fireplace mantel. The black fireplace tools, wrought iron worked into hooks and barbs, hang from an iron stand on the fireplace hearth. Without metals, the fire couldn't burn and sparkle, reflected off polished metal surfaces throughout the room.


The significant role of metal in human civilization incorporates threads of legend and folklore, philosophy and astronomy, alchemy, modern metallurgy and chemistry. Metals, either in pure form or combined with other metals, have produced an enormous variety of objects, including weapons, tools, machinery, decorative art objects and jewelry. Because of the huge range of uses for metals, objects containing metal, or fully made from metals, are all around us. They make up a large part of many collections housed in museums, galleries and some libraries.


Where are metals found?

Metals account for about two thirds of all the elements and about a quarter of the Earth's mass, but a lower percentage of its crust. Seawater contains trace amounts of metals, as do all living organisms and even dust particles in the air.


Most metals occur in nature as one of the constituents in ores, which are rocks buried within the earth. Ores are combinations of a metal and a nonmetal, such as oxygen or sulfur. The chemical combination is the same as salt or corrosion products found on deteriorating metal objects. In fact, ores are the most stable form of most metals. Corrosion is the way metals return to their ore state. To be useful as aluminum cans, copper wire and steel beams, the ores are mined and metals separated out of their ores by heating the rock - a process known as smelting. The commercial separation of metals from their ores is called extractive metallurgy. Iron and tin are among the easiest to extract from their ores and were the first of these metals to be used by humans. We will discuss how metals are removed from ores.


A few metals occur in nature as pure metals in Native deposits that can be worked immediately. These are known as Native metals. The first metals used by humans were Native metals. These Native metals were traded and pounded into tools and weapons or made into personal adornment. The first two metals to be used widely were gold and copper, which were the easiest to find because of their distinctive colors. Five metals can be found in their native states: gold, silver, copper, iron (from meteorites) and mercury. Native copper was probably the original source for early metalworkers. In the Southeast panhandle of Alaska, the Native peoples valued native copper, using it as currency. They thought the settler's desire for gold was ludicrous. It was a soft, useless material. Copper, on the other hand, could be hardened so that it held an edge and made a nice blade. Native copper deposits were also found in the Great Lakes region of the US.


What are the metals?

Currently there are 89 known metals. They make up most of the periodic table of elements. (See the green elements in the table below.) They are defined by specific physical and chemical properties.



Note that there are seven metalloids on the periodic table. Metalloids are elements, for example arsenic and antimony, that exhibit both metallic and nonmetallic properties. More on those properties in the next lecture.


The Seven Metals of Antiquity

Before the 19th century only 24 metals had been discovered. Twelve were discovered in the 18th century. Therefore, from the discovery of the first metals - gold and copper - until the end of the 17th century, eight thousand or more years, only 12 metals were known. Four of these metals - arsenic, antimony, zinc and bismuth - were discovered in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, while platinum was discovered in the 16th century. The other seven metals, known as the Metals of Antiquity, were the metals upon which civilization was based.


These seven metals were:

  • Gold, Au in the periodic table (discovered about 6000BC)
  • Copper, Cu in the periodic table (discovered about 4200BC)
  • Silver, Ag in the periodic table (discovered about 4000BC)
  • Lead, Pb in the periodic table (discovered about 3500BC)
  • Tin, Sn in the periodic table (discovered about 1750BC)
  • Iron, smelted, Fe in the periodic table (discovered about 1500BC)
  • Mercury, Hg in the periodic table (discovered about 750BC)*

These metals were known to the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Native Americans and Oriental peoples. Five of the seven metals can be found in their native states. However, the occurrence of these metals in their native form was not abundant.


Two major periods in human history have been named after metals: the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Copper, because of its distinctive color, usefulness and availability in a pure form, may have been the first metal discovered and used by man. The Bronze Age could occur without knowledge of smelting. The Iron Age could not.



Very early, the art of alloying, or mixing, metals was used to improve their properties. Alloys are metal mixtures. Alloys have properties that are unique mixtures of the properties of their constituent metals. Alloys improve metallic properties for specific purposes - in particular they significantly increase the strength of the metals, much more than the strength of the two separate metals would suggest. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Steel is an alloy of iron and other metals with carbon added for hardness. For example, iron combined with carbon produces alloys such as cast iron and steel; whereas the alloying of chromium and nickel with iron forms stainless steel. An alloy with a different name, an amalgam is a mixture of mercury and another metal. For centuries, the properties of metals - such as their appearance, strength, malleability, conductivity, impact resistance, and chemical reactivity - have been altered by combining them. Their usefulness is determined by how these properties can be altered through alloying with other metals to produce a wide range of materials with tailor-made properties.


When we describe a museum object, and we don't know its metallic composition, then it is safest to describe it as an alloy. So, instead of calling a candle holder brass, call it a copper alloy candlestick. Chemically, it might contain zinc to make it a brass. But it might contain arsenic, tin, or other metals - and you can't know that without metallographic analysis. If you do this analysis, then, and only then, can you safely label the object a brass or bronze.


In this course, we will emphasize the structure and care of the most abundant metals found in museums - iron, copper, silver, tin, lead and aluminum. Other metals might be mentioned in passing or found in your additional readings.


*Dates vary by a few thousand years from different sources. I chose the dates provided by Alan W. Cramb, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University in his on-line lecture "A Short History of Metals," which is provided as an additional reading. However, I believe he is very conservative in his dates. For example, a brass mirror was discovered in a Chinese tomb dated to the 11th century BC - seven thousand years earlier than the date given by Dr. Cramb.


Excerpt from MS223 Care of Metals course starting September 1, 2014.

Helen Alten is an objects conservator and the director of Northern States Conservation Center. Although she originally created the Care of Metals course, it is now taught by Fiona Graham. Fiona Graham is an accredited professional conservator (CAPC) offering bilingual (English & French) services in preventive conservation and heritage restoration to the museum and heritage field. Her areas of expertise include; preventive conservation in facility design and operations, specifications and project management for conservation projects, metals conservation, pest management, condition surveys, emergency planning, and policies and procedures. She is currently a Conservator at Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects, a Tutor at Athabasca University and the Course Director for the Ontario Museum Association.

New Pathways

By Helen Alten


Leadership in the arts is undergoing a sea change due to the creative work of EmcArts in New York City. They have developed the New Pathways program to teach arts institutions how to lead in a complex world. In a simple system, one action has a definable and definite result. For example, if you hit a baseball, it moves in the opposite direction towards the outfield. But in a complex system, there are unpredictable results because it is impossible to know how everything is interlinked. To teach this to participants in the New Pathways | Alaska program, which launched at the end of June, Richard Evans of EmcArts had participants stand up and do an exercise he called "triangles." Each person in the room identified two other people. No one knew who each person had identified. Then everybody had to keep themselves equidistant from the two people that they identified. This immediately set the group into motion. One person's movement affected the movement of others. Some people affected a large number of people. For example, those who were easily identifiable because they wore bright clothing or interesting headdress. One person, who entered the exercise late, didn't affect anyone with her movement, because she hadn't been in the room to be chosen. So she could move with equanimity. Others felt the tension of eyes on them, watching every movement. This showed how an action can have unplanned results. For the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, a small museum in Haines, Alaska, this example of unexpected results made a lot of sense. In a small town, everyone is interconnected in some manner. For example, when board minutes were recently written up and sent out in draft form to the board, the mayor called the museum director, angry at something written in the draft minutes. One of the board members had shown her the minutes, and she misread them as criticism of her work as mayor. This is a small example of an unexpected result.


The Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in Haines, Alaska is one of 10 arts organizations that have been accepted into New Pathways | Alaska. Diverging from the format of previous New Pathways  

programs, those in New Pathways | Alaska will participate in 9 Workshops with EmcArts staff via virtual learning technology. Additionally, organizations will gather in Anchorage for three face-to-face Participant Forums, which provide opportunities for shared learning, peer-to-peer exchange, and development of collaborative initiatives. In partnership with facilitators from the Foraker Group, New Pathways | Alaska organizations will explore ideas, approaches, and topics from the Workshops in three on-site coaching sessions throughout late 2014 and early 2015. The Foraker Group will mentor them through an innovative solution to an identified challenge. The Rasmussen Foundation provides funding for the project, including funding for all the participants to test out new ideas using mini-grants of $750. Four sites will be chosen to receive $20,000 to implement larger changes in 2015-2016, and one site will receive $75,000 for an even larger idea to be implemented in 2016-2017.


Richard Evans, who studies innovation and capacity building, is the mastermind behind this new way of thinking about arts leadership. As founder of EmcArts, he directs programs and strategic partnerships. His recent research, program design, and facilitation places particular emphasis on innovation, adaptive organizational change, and effective ways that the arts and culture field can respond to the demands of a new era for the sector. In 2008 a pilot Lab for American Orchestras was so successful it led to the Innovation Lab for Performing Arts. Fall 2011 saw the launch of a second national lab - the Innovation Lab for Museums. Richard also leads the design and implementation of the New Pathways for the Arts Initiative, a series of community-based innovation programs that is active in cities across the country.


You might not have heard about EmcArts before. But you probably will hear much more in the near future. The mission of EmcArts is threefold:

  • To strengthen the capacities of cultural organizations across the country and advance the practices of innovation and adaptive change
  • To achieve field-wide recognition for organizational innovation and adaptive leadership as essential organizational disciplines for the cultural sector in the 21st century
  • To move the dialogue about these disciplines from the margins to the center of the field's attention

With the ambitious goal of changing how the often-ponderous world of museums, and other arts organizations, functions in a rapidly changing world, EmcArts is constantly seeking new partnerships to spread their training to more institutions. In Alaska, they found a receptive ear with the Rasmussen Foundation and their leadership training partner, the Foraker Group. They have found other receptive partners in New York, California, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois and Washington, DC. The have successfully implemented their own philosophy of leadership in an increasingly complex world.


Helen Alten founded Northern States Conservation Center 18 years ago and 10 years ago. She is an objects conservator with a desire to bring about change through museums, improving our communities and the patrimony we leave to our off-spring.   

September 2014 Courses


MS214: Collection Management Databases

Sept 1 to Sept 26, 2014

Instructor: Sofia Galarza Liu and John Simmons


A collection database is a necessary tool for accurate and efficient collections management. In Collection Management Databases you will learn what characteristics distinguish one database system from another; how a database can be used to manage inventory, conservation, pest management, and other aspects of collections management; as well as how to prepare your collection and documentation for entry into a database.


MS204: Materials for Storage and Display

Sept 1 to Sept 26, 2014

Instructor: Helen Alten 


One of the great benefits of the 21st century is the abundance of materials for storing and displaying collections. Materials for Storage and Display covers this vast array in detail. Lectures and handouts separate materials by properties: rigid, padding, barrier and attachments. Slide shows illustrate the use of each. The course emphasizes acid-free materials and how to retrofit less appropriate materials. Materials for Storage and Display keeps current with the latest materials available for preservation. Using material testing as a decision making tool is covered. Participants receive notebooks with samples of all of the materials discussed.


MS242: Museum Microclimates

Sept 1 to Sept 26, 2014

Instructor: Jerry Shiner


A microclimate is the environment immediately surrounding an artifact. Microclimates designed for optimum storage, display, or treatment conditions can be created and maintained in showcases, storage cabinets, rooms, or plastic bags. This course covers the basics of creating and maintaining microclimates, including discussions of suitable enclosures and appropriate means of controlling humidity, temperature, pollution, and oxygen. Learn what constitutes a microclimate, how to use silica gel and other environmental control materials, how to reduce internally generated pollutants, and techniques for monitoring the microclimate you have created.


MS106: Exhibit Fundamentals: Ideas to Installation On-line Course

Sept 1 to Oct 10, 2014

Instructor: Lin Nelson-Mayson


Nearly every museum develops exhibits, but how can we improve communication with visitors while taking care of our objects? Exhibit Fundamentals explores exhibits from idea to final installation in a variety of settings. Topics include exhibit theory, the role of the museum's mission, creating a timeline, accessibility and script writing. Also covered are design elements, installation techniques, object safety and security, visitor safety and evaluations. Each student develops an exhibit plan for his or her museum.


MS223: Care of Metals

Sept 1 to Oct 10, 2014

Instructor: Fiona Graham


Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed indoor or outdoors depending on the object. Learn how to identify different types of metal and their alloys. Gain an understanding of how and why metals deteriorate and methods for preventing deterioration from occurring or continuing. The pros and cons of different popular treatments will be covered along with recommendations for the least damaging approach to treatment. Care of Metals provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of metals, explaining the importance of the galvanic series and electrochemistry in care strategies. Starting with an overview of the history and function of metals and how they are made, the course will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing metals. An overview of treatments, including cleaning, used on metals and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the metal object will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.


MS243: Making Museum Quality Mannequins

Sept 1 to Oct 10, 2014

Instructor: Helen Alten


A good mannequin makes an exhibit look professional. Unfortunately, most museum staff do not know how to make a costume look good on a mannequin. The result is that costumes look flat, provide incorrect information or are being damaged. Buying an expensive "museum quality mannequin" is not the solution - garments rarely fit without alterations to the mannequin. Learn how to measure garments and transfer that information to construct a new form or alter an old form so that it accurately fits the garment, creating an accurate and safe display. Learn about the materials that will and won't damage the textile. Making Museum Quality Mannequins provides an overview of all of the materials used to construct mannequins in today's museums. Learn inexpensive mannequin solutions and how different materials may use the same additive or subtractive construction technique. Fabrication methods for many mannequin styles are described. Finishing touches - casting and molding, hair, arms, legs, stands and base, undergarments - are discussed with examples of how they change the presentation of a garment.


MS205/6: Disaster Plan Research and Writing

Sept 1 to Oct 24, 2014

Instructor: Terri Schindel


Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course. Once completed with this course, we recommend the Disaster Preparation and Recovery course taught by Susan Duhl and Helen Alten to provide more information about staff organization and management during and after a disaster.

Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.


Helen Alten, Director

Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager