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National Services Te Paerangi. National Services Te Paerangi works with museums, galleries, iwi, and related organisations to enhance museum services and support these to become self-sustaining. How we help. He Rauemi Resource Guides.

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national services te paerangi
National Services Te Paerangi

National Services Te Paerangi works with museums, galleries, iwi, and related organisations to enhance museum services and support these to become self-sustaining.

how we help
How we help

He Rauemi Resource Guides

0508 freephone helpline

training and professional development
Training and professional development

Marae based workshops

Workshops for museums at regional and national level

new zealand museums standards scheme
New Zealand Museums Standards Scheme
  • Practical and user friendly
  • Sends good message to funders
  • Formal review or as a resource
  • Its free!
nzmuseums www nzmuseums co nz
  • Online collection management system
  • Marketing tool for your museum
  • It’s free for up to 200 objects
  • Wider access for your museum and it’s collection
handling packaging museum objects

Handling & Packaging Museum Objects

A National Services Te Paerangi workshop

By Trish Nugent-Lyne


Welcome, introductions and aims

Conservation fundamentals

Safe handling and moving objects within the museum

Morning tea

What materials to use for packing and storage and where to get them

Considerations for safe packing with examples


Practical packaging including nesting

Afternoon tea

Practical continued

Labelling and identification of packed objects

conservation fundamentals
Conservation fundamentals
  • Packaging is all about preventative conservation
  • Causes of damage
    • Light
    • Temperature and Humidity
    • Pests including - insects, rodents and mould
    • Pollutants
    • Natural disasters
    • Humans

All objects are important.

Always keep workstations clean and clear.

Always keep working tools, office and cleaning equipment separate from objects.

Never allow food, drink or cigarettes near objects or in collection areas at any times. Be especially careful about keeping tāonga Māori out of the staff room or areas where food is eaten or prepared.


When moving an object always plan the route ensuring that the pathway there is clear and that the table/shelf/palette/ etc is prepared to receive the object. There should be a suitable amount of space and supports for the object when needed.

Never touch an object unless you have the authority or a reason to do so.


Wear clean white cotton or latex gloves or have scrupulously clean hands or use acid-free paper corners to lift objects.

Stop and think before handling an object.

Inspect the object for possible weaknesses before you touch it.

Never pick up an object by its handle.

Never carry heavy or awkward objects by yourself.


Two hands are better than one. Carry small objects with one hand and support the outside or top with the other hand.

  • Large and awkward objects should be moved by two people, regardless of the weight involved.

Discuss lifting and movement with any other people involved before touching the object and while moving it

  • Do not hurry when handling objects.
  • Never carry framed works by the picture wire, the top of the frame or the stretcher. Carry them with one hand beneath and one hand at the side of the frame.

Always handle photographic material and unframed prints from the edges or the back. Do not touch the image.

  • When handling leather or plastic objects do not force them to flex and bend into a different shape.
  • Don’t forget to record the relocation of moved objects.
handling natural history specimens
Handling Natural History Specimens
  • Always prepare yourself properly in advance.
  • Wear disposable nitrile (the blue ones) gloves. Dispose of these as soon as you take them off. Never reuse gloves, even after only five minutes.
  • Wear an approved dust mask and a dustcoat.
  • Never do any intensive work in a confined place or without adequate ventilation.
  • Clean dustcoat each week.
packaging materials
Packaging materials

Woods – i.e. untreated plywood for crates

Card boards



Papers and tissues


storage supplies suppliers
Storage Supplies & suppliers


Auckland Beds Division, 686 Rosebank Road, Private Bag 19992, Avondale

Ph: 09 820 1610 fax: 09 820 1611

  • Plastazote

Packaging House

0800 722 566 for Customer Services

0800 722 567 for Sales Enquiries

  • Cellaire
  • Bubble wrap
  • Polystyrene beans

Fabri-cell international Ltd.

24 Dalgety Drive, Wiri, Manukau, Auckland, 2104, Ph: 09 269 0924

  • Tyvek

A.E. Karsten

67 Morrin Rd , Saint Johns , Auckland, 1072 Ph: +64 9 570 4490

  • Foams


  • Small swing tags

Local fabric shop

  • Unbleached calico
  • Dacron

Port Nicholson Packaging

  • 33 Fitzherbert St, Petone, LOWER HUTT, PO Box 38-133,

Wellington Mail Centre - Ph: 04 568-5018

  • Small storage boxes

Storage Box

  • Assorted re-sealable plastic bags

Conservation supplies -

Unit 1, 12 Donnelly Street, Havelock North 4130

Ph: 06 211 3991 Fax: 06 877 8279

  • Foam board black/white
  • Corrugated fluted polypropylene
  • Corrugated fluted polypropylene ready to assemble textile storage boxes
  • Multiuse board conservation board 3 and 6 mm
  • Storage rolls
  • Archival card
  • Polypropylene and polyethylene enclosures
  • Acid free negative enclosures
  • Acid free tissue
  • Polypropylene and polyester mounting corners
  • Archival paper framing tape
  • Acid free negative envelopes
  • Linen wetable tape
  • Double sided tape
  • Tarnish preventative fabric
  • Printed acid free labels
  • Synthetic latex free gloves
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Pens and inks
  • U.V Film / filters
considerations for packing
Considerations for packing
  • Optimum protection
  • Affordable cost
  • Fragility of the object
  • Type and composition of object
  • Risk assessment
  • Determine the need is it for exhibition, loan, travel or storage

What type of materials to use

  • How much time you have
  • Prepare
  • Plan with repacking in mind

Make it simple and use common sense

If complicated thoroughly document with instructions, diagrams or photos

Examine – ensure structurally stable

Protect from other objects, materials used and walls of the packing case

Use materials that do not abrade, scratch or chemically react with the object

Provide adequate shock absorbing material- not too, much not too little

Insulation and vapour barriers



Tyvek, PE Foam, Masking tape


Ruler, Craft knife, Pencil, Butter knife, Hot glue gun


Check the object for fragility, which areas of the object can be load bearing and which cannot.

Select a piece of foam and make sure the foam is clean and with no hard surfaces such as hot glue residue.

Lay masking tape in the general shape of the object. This gives you something to draw on and leave the foam clean.

Draw an outline around the object with pencil only. It can be useful to include voids around the object for ease of object removal. If you do this then locate the voids where appropriate for handling.


Cut out the silhouette of the object, and scoop out the depth.

Cut a slot about 10mm away from the silhouette.


Fit a piece of tyvek into the silhouette, tucking the tyvek into the cut slot with a thin blunt object (ruler, butter knife etc). Make sure you use enough material to allow the object to sink into a natural position.

You can trial the object in the tyvek cradle before you make your final cuts.


Cut away the excess tyvek from around the silhouette and tuck the remaining edges into the slot.

With a heavy or awkward object you can secure the tyvek by gluing it into the slot with a hot glue gun.

Use a piece (or pieces) of cotton tape to secure the object, tucking the tape into each side. With large or heavy objects use two pieces of tape that tie together.