Confronting plastics preservation

Project dates : 2014

Confronting plastics preservation is a Plastics SSN Resource.

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Confronting plastics preservation aims to build workforce skills and share excellence and best practice in collections knowledge relating to the preservation of plastics objects across the museum sector.

The plastics group of materials consists of a large number of different types of plastics that are more or less vulnerable, react differently to the environment, and degrade in different ways. The single most important factor that impacts on a plastic object's life-expectancy once it has been manufactured is how it is looked after. This resource provides guidelines for the care of different plastics through a series of case studies of specific objects made of a range of plastics materials, the condition of which will be tracked on a six monthly basis over a period of five years. For a more general introduction to issues relating to the preservation of plastics please go to Care of plastics.


Confronting plastics preservation consists of four parts:

  • a short film, which catches the flavour of the seminar held to inaugurate the resource. It will help you know which papers are relevant to your interests and, thus, which you will wish to listen to in full.
  • the papers presented at the seminar. They present particular viewpoints on a range of collections including early plastics, fine art collections, social history collections and a specific textiles area: swimming costumes.
  • An account of standard practice for the care of plastic objects.
  • the case studies. They present example objects made of different plastics degraded in different ways. You can match an object of concern in your collection to one of the case studies and find out what treatments are suitable and how best to care for it.

There is also an account of the methodology adopted in development of the resource and a list of contributors.

Film >