Plastics Reference Collection

One of Preservation of Plastics' objectives is to establish a collection of well-characterized standards or reference materials to support analytical studies of plastics in museum collections, treatment studies, workshops, and other educational activities.

The Plastics Reference Collection, part of the GCI Reference collection, includes objects and samples made of natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic polymers, representing the most common plastics found in museum collections. References are chosen and collected not only considering plastics compositions but also the processing methods and condition. The aim is to provide examples of the whole range of plastics materials and methods of production used to make plastic objects as well as a complete overview of typical degradation signs affecting each polymer.

To established this collection, the project team is working with Colin Williamson, a plastics technologist and expert in noninvasive identification of early plastics, to establish a defining selection and documentation criteria. Williamson has also donated large part of his unique plastics collection to the Getty Conservation Institute's Plastics Reference Collection.

In addition to Williamson's donation, the Plastics Reference Collection also includes SamCo, the samples collection of plastics references and objects created to support the analytical studies carried out during the POPART project.

The Plastics Reference Collection is cataloged and searchable. Each reference has its own record that includes reference description, material, polymer acronym, trade name, dimension, date, artist/designer, manufacturer, source/supplier, method of production and condition. Links are provided to analytical data gained from the analysis of the references.

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Page updated: June 2017