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Friday, May 17 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Collection Care) Harmonizing Wants, Needs and Limits in the Construction of a Specialized Musical Instrument Vault

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Over a more than 10-year time frame the Library of Congress planned, budgeted and executed a very complicated construction and protection and relocation plan for over 1,800 objects including metal and wooden musical instruments, iconography, historic leather flute cases, photographic materials, correspondence and a wide array of 3-dimensional decorative objects. Throughout planning, construction and the protection of objects the project team including facility staff, collection managers, and preservation staff faced the need to consider multiple compromises to realize the successful completion of a vault that features improved physical and electronic security, protection from water incursion, environmental control, and cabinetry that provides more efficient protective storage for the entire collection. This presentation will highlight examples where the project team was confronted with less than "textbook ideal" situations such as the location of the vault below grade, the compromise of restricting fresh air circulation to maintain tighter RH control, the need to identify soft flooring and other construction materials that would not out gas harmful volatile components, and contending with the move to interim storage and return for this complex collection. The author will present mitigations to improve moisture permeability, researching and testing a wide array of products, engineering Purafil filtration into an existing HVAC design, executing the move and storage furniture installation, and plans for testing air quality in the space. Ultimately the most important lessons-learned from this project support the recent direction of collection care-- assessing and accepting improvements that may in part not meet theoretical storage ideals, finding the best solutions through collaboration with stakeholders representing many voices of expertise, reviewing challenges and potential solutions repeatedly and perhaps most critically not losing faith when tough decisions or circumstances require re-thinking and diligence to overcome. A secondary feature of this talk will provide images and descriptions of furnishing and housing solutions for specific collection objects such as a specialized gasketed cabinet controlled by silica gel and a small computer fan to ensure circulation to avoid condensation forming on significant glass flutes-- some demonstrating advanced deterioration. Other housings range from the "one-off" protection for the most valued, used and vulnerable objects to streamlined fittings able to be constructed, modified and efficiently applied.

avatar for Nancy Lev-Alexander

Nancy Lev-Alexander

Head, Collections Stabilization, Conservation Division / Library of Congress
Nancy Lev-Alexander has served as a supervisor in the Conservation Division of the Library of Congress for 14 years where she leads the Collections Stabilization Section whose eight members focus on preventive needs of the Library's wide variety of special collections. The Section... Read More →

Friday May 17, 2019 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Salon A2-A3, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Collection Care