Caring for your treasures

1 Anderson Baby.jpg
Our past exhibition, Bugs, Rust and Dust Bunnies, attracted a lot of interest. People were  asking us many questions about how to care for their treasures.
While some types of objects have problems unique to their construction, such as wood, which gets borer, some conditions affect almost all objects. One such factor is heat. Heat causes fibres to swell, resulting in distortion of the item or parts of the item.

2. Pony Camp at Hilgendorfs.jpg
I see this often in photographs and was reminded of how damaging incorrect storage can be when I decided to be brave and work on a box of badly damaged negatives recently.
They form part of the extensive Tindall Collection, which contains a number of local weddings, events and portraits.

3. Labelled Domain grandstand.jpg
These particular negatives were affected by heat and improper storage before they arrived into the Ashburton Museum collection. We can’t do anything to restore them to their original condition, but we can slow down the process of deterioration, by taking them out of their acidic packaging and keeping them in a cool environment.
We have also made the decision to scan every one, to preserve what remains and to share with people.

4. Edmondson baby.jpg
As you can see from the images on this page, while some are in an acceptable condition, some are badly marked as the different layers that make up the negative have become separated and crackled due to their layers reacting to heat in different ways.
However, with some ‘photoshopping’ these could be restored digitally.

5. Stoddart children.jpg
I thought I would share some of the images with you to show what damage can be done, and maybe you may recognise a face or two as well.

6. White McDowell wedding.jpg
7. Convent netball.jpg


By Kathleen Stringer


  1. Anderson Baby, showing the damage from heat and unsuitable storage.
  2. Often the deterioration leaves just the centre of the image unscathed, as shown here with the Pony Camp at Hilgendorfs.
  3. While the majority of images in the box are of people, there are some that are of buildings. This is, according to the bag. The Domain Grandstand.
  4. Don’t ask me why, but the Edmondson baby is in good condition. If only we know who he was!
  5. The Stoddart boys don’t look very excited about getting their photos taken.
  6. While you may be looking at the faces, sometimes the Museum is interested in the background. Here the White McDowell wedding plays second fiddle to the Tuckers building in the background.
  7. Marked simply ‘Convent School’ the bag appears to contain two basketball teams. This is the best image.

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