It’s been a gradual evolution, but nowadays I ask all people handling an object to wear impermeable gloves (usually nitrile). There are special circumstances (handling frozen items or very heavy sculpture) where different gloves might be needed, of course.
People need to wear gloves when handling an object for two reasons – it protects the object and it protects them. People have all sorts of chemicals on their hands – heavy metals from mercury amalgam fillings, medications they are taking, enzymes (which break down proteins), hygroscopic agents such as potassium lactate to keep the skin supple, amino acids, urea, greases, salts and water. The skin is our largest excreting organ. So our hands leave a thin layer of salty, greasy, moisture absorbing chemicals on an object which acts as a food source for mold and pests, a corrosion accelerator, a protein destroyer, a dust grabber and a soiling agent all by itself.
Bu then we think about what the object has on it: corrosion products, trace elements which could be poisonous, the remains of pesticide treatments, mold spores and toxins or lead-rich dust from previous storage environments. Was it ever in a flood and contaminated with fecal particles? I can’t guarantee what it has on it, and I want my colleagues to stay safe and healthy.
Of course gloves take a bit of getting used to, but it’s not that hard. We expect neuro-surgeons to wear them for hours every day when operating and we don’t expect them to complain that they can’t feel properly when wearing gloves!
I also ask people to wash their hands and dry them thoroughly before and after wearing gloves, to use hand cream or barrier cream if they are using gloves often as they need to replace oils and keep the skin healthy. If someone has problems with sweaty hands, they can wear a thin cotton glove and then a larger impermeable glove over that.
So far no-one on any of the training or handling sessions has dropped or fumbled an object.
Hope this helps.