When the exhibit, Tall-in-the-Saddle: 100 Years of the Pendleton Round-Up, ends January 31, the gallery will become base camp for the seasonal deep-cleaning from February 1-March 27, 2011. There will not be a formal exhibit until April 2, when OMSI’s Amazing Feats of Aging opens. During Caring for the Past, visitors will be able to observe conservation in action during the live gallery demonstration.
As the collections curator, Randall Melton must feel “buggy” all the time. Once one becomes aware of all the dust and frass around us, the world seems to be crawling with contaminants. Frass is the excrement of invertebrates, meaning bugs! Frass is soft and powdery. Being out in the middle of an agricultural zone as Tamástslikt is, there is a plenitude of bugs excreting.
Not to mention just plain dust, composed of pollens, dead skin cells, insect bits, and all kinds of organic matter that feed biological growth. Acidic dust can definitely damage artifacts such as basketry. Dust can be hygroscopic, attracting water and holding it against the surface of an object, not good! Dust is Randall’s enemy.
Going down to the microbial level, even bacteria have defensive mechanisms in which they will respond to stress by generating exopolymers, sticky layers, on the surfaces of artifacts. I read about it at the conservation blog, http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/category/publications/. But not to worry, Randall and the curatorial staff do a good job of protecting Tamástslikt’s assets. If you have artifacts you’re concerned about, some folks have put their items on indefinite loan to Tamástslikt, so they can be stored in the vault under optimal controlled conditions of temperature and humidity.