Conservation workshop supports care of geological collections

By Bridget White, Geological Sciences Department, University of Canterbury. In late 2014, Bridget attended a conservation workshop delivered in partnership between the University of Canterbury and National Services Te Paerangi.

I felt a bit unusual attending the Conservation Workshop, coming from the Geological Sciences Department. One usually thinks ‘arts’ when paired with curation and conservation, but the storage, management and preservation of any specimen requires an understanding of the storage environment and what is or can be harmful to objects. The geology collections in the basement of the University’s von Haast building are extensive and precious, ranging from teaching collections to thesis samples, with many pieces irreplaceable and valuable. The collections are going to be moved to their new home, the Regional Science and Innovation Centre, so the Conservation Workshop was a great experience in learning how to best care for, store and transport our vast collections. I really enjoyed learning about what makes a storage environment work best for many different types of samples and how to monitor environmental conditions present. We also learned about the benefits of packaging materials, what buffers and absorbers do to aid preservation, and had some time to bring in any problem items for a discussion on how to best look after them. I found the course really valuable, a lot can be applied to the geology collections currently, as well as being prepared for the big shift in the future. The expert knowledge of Emily Fryer on so many subjects meant she was able to help with everyone’s queries and provide us with a sound foundation on caring for collections.