Conservation of Plastics in Museum Collections aims to disseminate the current state of knowledge of the conservation of plastics and rubbers. Through its long-term Preservation of Plastics project, the GCI has been researching ways to advance the conservation of plastics and is offering a workshop series in order to support professionals in the field facing the significant conservation challenges posed by these materials. These workshops integrate teaching material developed over the past decade by conservator Anna Lagana and conservation scientist Thea van Oosten, as well as the latest research conducted at the GCI.

Over the last 150 years of plastics evolution—from celluloid to the most advanced technopolymers—an infinite number of artifacts in every color, pattern, shape, and form have been produced with plastics using a wide range of manufacturing methods from molding and casting to 3D technologies. A great number of these artifacts are currently in museum collections and many are posing challenges for the conservators charged with their care. Especially troubling for conservators and collectors is the potential for these objects to experience rapid and often spectacular disintegration with very little advance warning. Without research into this area, the problem can only escalate.

To support professionals facing the issues posed by plastics, the GCI is undertaking a series of workshops to disseminate the current state of knowledge regarding the conservation of plastics and rubbers.

Through its theoretical and practical sessions, demonstrations and group discussions, the workshop aims to:

Familiarize participants with various plastics materials produced through history

Improve participants' theoretical background on the conservation of plastics

Improve participants' practical skills on the treatment of plastics objects

Develop critical thinking skills that will help participants to estimate risks, establish suitable approaches into the preservation of plastics objects and design appropriate conservation treatments for their conservation.

This workshop series is part of the Research into Practice Initiative, which seeks to facilitate the practical application of new research to conservation problems.

Page updated: November 2017