Standard practice

There are certain standards for the care of plastics materials regardless of which plastic.

Handling

When handled gloves of some inert material such as latex should always be worn.

Numbering

Barrier coatings, as often applied to objects, and adhesive labels are not appropriate for plastics as they may react adversely with the surface. Rubber bands should be avoided.

Lighting

Objects made of plastics should not be on permanent display. Ideally they should be kept in the dark. Opinions differ on light levels from 50 to150 lux. The lower the light the better in terms of the object's longevity but as all light is damaging, it should be bright enough for the object to be seen and appreciated. Lights should always be fitted with ultra violet (UV) filters.

Environmental conditions

Certain plastics require especially cool temperatures and unusually low or high humidity. However, when the term 'stable environment' is used the conditions recommended are:

  • 18 - 20° centigrade.
  • 45-65% RH +/-5% in 24 hour period.

Display

Use inert display materials and allow off gassing from painted display furniture for at least 72 hours before installing objects.

When moving objects kept in cold storage to display, gradual acclimitisation needs to occur with no more than 5% change during any 24 hour period.

Place the object on an inert surface such as melinex or silicone release paper to prevent contact between it and the display furniture.

Ensure the object is well-supported and not under any strain.

Treatments

Before interventive conservation always consult a specialist conservator.

Please note these are only general guidelines and each object will have its own requirements.

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