Clean the World

Hey how’s it going? Joe here. I’ve returned to you now, at the turn of the tide (If you understand that reference we should definitely be friends).

Recently, I have been helping to clean the World Cultures Gallery here at Ipswich Museum. On paper, this doesn’t sound like an overly complicated task, but it’s much more complex than it might appear. The area we have been concentrating on to start with is the Alaskan Eskimo part of the gallery.

Museums, like everything else in life, get dirty over time and require a good ol’ spring clean. We were particularly keeping an eye out for pests or any evidence of their existence within the case. Now, you might assume that getting into the cases in the first instance would be a relatively straight forward process. You’d assume wrongly. I’m not going to divulge our security processes, or how to actually open the cases, but each one took a great deal longer to just get in than expected. Then of course you have to make sure you have all the relevant tools to aid you. I marvel at the people who know exactly what they need for each specific task (shout out to ground force’s Handy Andy).

Finally, the doors open and you are ready to investigate and clean the case. With a trusty handheld hoover slung over your shoulder and the net firmly attached to the end of the nozzle, you get to work, taking particular care not to damage the objects within or the cases themselves. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the case, we found some deceased critters inside. These were of course gathered up by our Conservation team/Natural history expert and sent to the lab to be examined.

Identification

At this stage, I’d just like to point out that I initially missed the identification process, but decided later on to have a go. Inside the case we only encountered the odd dead wasp, and house fly. This was good news. They are pests, but not ones that are looking to damage the objects. They were probably more interested in the light. Above the case however, we did find some Anthrenus Verbasci (Carpet Beetle). These guys feed off of carpets, clothing, furniture and insect collections. This would have been an issue if we had found them inside the case, but thankfully they hadn’t made it that far. Ipswich Museum World Cultures Gallery 1 – 0 Carpet Beetle. While in the lab, I got to view them down a microscope. This would help me in the future, when trying to work out what is what, or even if they are a nuisance at all. Spiders for example, are a Museums best friend, as they prey on most of the pests that can destroy collections. Don’t ask me to handle them though; that’s a bridge too far.

Bob (Conservation Officer), then informed me of how to dispose of the bodies. I had to attach them to some cellotape and put it in the bin. In case any other little fools want to feast on the corpses, the cellotape works to trap them, so they die in the process. Wow, this got dark quickly.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day/week/month/year etc.

Until next time,

Joe.

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