Storage and Handling
Storage Furniture: A Brief Review of Current Options


  1. Pamela Hatchfield, Conservator, Objects Conservation and Scientific Research, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. Personal communication.
  2. Saturate a small-tip cotton swab on a stick with methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and rub it vigorously over a small inconspicuous area of the furniture to be tested. Rub the swab over the furniture backward and forward thirty times in each direction. The finish on the furniture may soften, take on a moist look, or discolor slightly. This is not a concern. Look at the swab to see how much, if any, paint has been removed. Minimal or slight discoloration on a swab is a reasonable assurance that the coating is properly cured. Medium to heavy discoloration indicates that the coating may not be properly cured and may need to be tested further. Please note that MEK is toxic and flammable. It must be used in a well ventilated area, and appropriate protective measures must be taken. B. W. Golden, Vice President, Engineering, Interior Steel Equipment Co., Cleveland, Ohio, and Bruce Danielson, President, Delta Designs, Topeka, Kansas. Personal communication.
  3. Golden.
  4. This procedure is used for testing wood products, sealants, and a variety of other materials. If you are testing a wood or other material, place a sample of the material in a glass jar. If you are testing a sealant, coat a clean glass slide with the sealant you want to test, and place the coated slide in a glass jar. Also place in the jar a piece of cleaned and degreased lead, silver, and iron: rub the metal pieces with 600-grit sandpaper or steel wool and then wipe them with acetone or alcohol. Next dampen a piece of cotton with deionized water and place it in the jar with the metal pieces and wood sample or glass slide. Place the dampened cotton in a small glass beaker or glass vial in the jar so that it is not in direct contact with the metal pieces and glass slide and to slow the evaporation rate. Cover the jar with two thicknesses of aluminum foil and secure the foil tightly with brass or other wire. Prepare a second jar exactly the same way as the first but without the sample or coated glass slide. This jar will serve as a control. Place both jars in an oven at 60°C for three weeks or on a window sill for as long as possible. Watch for changes in the appearance of the metals. Looking under magnification will be helpful. Changes will probably occur in both the test samples and the control samples. If the changes in the test samples differ from those in the control samples, unacceptable substances are probably present. In the testing of wood composites, it is impossible to determine if the reaction is caused by the wood or by the adhesives in the composite. If a positive reaction is observed, the material is probably unsuitable for use. Hatchfield. Personal communication.
  5. Hatchfield.
  6. Hatchfield.
  7. Hatchfield, "Choosing Materials for Museum Storage," in Storage of Natural History Collections: Basic Concepts, Carolyn L. Rose and Catharine A. Hawks, eds. (Pittsburgh, PA: Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, 1994), p. 7.
  8. Hatchfifeld, pp. 5–6.
  9. Margaret Holben Ellis, The Care of Prints and Drawings (Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 1995), 148.
  10. Ellis., 148–9.