Mold on composition dolls

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    • #133679
      Laura Furman

      I wonder if anyone has suggestions on removing mold from indie composition dolls from the 1920s. These are new acquisitons with significant provenance which led us to accept them despite their condition when they were brough to us. We have controlled the humidity in our department to avoid emcouraging the mold. However, the hepa filter vacuum we have doen’t have attachements small enough to get to the problem areas. Can I freeze them? I’m concerned about moisture destroying the composition material if the freezing goes wrong.

      Anyone have ideas or experience?

      Thank you, Laura Furman, Curator of Colelctions, Midway Village Museum, Rockford, IL

    • #133681

      Hi Laura – Freezing would only deactivate the mould and not actually kill it. It would start growing again once it returned to room temperature. I suggest a separate box (polyethylene or polypropylene) that can be sealed tightly and place silica gel (along with a datalogger) inside to reduce the moisture content of the dolls. Wrap the dolls with a soft cotton or silk fabric first to provide some padding, protection from light (if the box is not opaque) and provide a means to safely remove the doll from the box. Lowering the moisture content of the dolls will also deactivitate the mould but not kill it. Killing mould spores without also damaging the artifact itself is impossible. But with the dolls enclosed in a sealed box with low moisture content, at least you can keep the dolls at room temperature.
      Margaret Geiss-Mooney, Costume/Textile Conservator in Private Practice, Professional Associate – AIC

    • #133680
      Bronwyn Eves

      Laura, Perhaps you could post a question on the Illinois Association of Museums listserv to see if someone in your area has the attachments that you could borrow.
      The Illinois Connecting to Collections program is putting together an environmental assessment kit that can be shipped to collecting institutions in Illinois for use such as yours. I wish it were ready to go, but we’re just getting the project started! I’m an objects conservator at the Illinois State Museum and would be happy to look at images if you want to email me:

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