Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

preserving leaves on a cut tree branch


This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Erin Kraus 1 year, 6 months ago.

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  • #135917

    David C


    Our local Town Historian showed me what will be done in a Pulp Mill Museum under her care. One things she had done this year was to have a large branch cut from a poplar tree so it could be put on display. The idea is to show what a poplar tree and the leaves look like. I mentioned the leaves might turn brown and fall off soon. Is there something she can coat onto the leaves to keep them green and attached to the branch? The branch is about 5″ diameter with several smaller branches (with the leaves) coming off the main branch. I was going to suggest a large fake branch with silk leaves, but I thought I would ask here first.

    David Cranston, Curator
    Hadley-Lake Luzerne Historical Society
    Lake Luzerne, NY

  • #135918

    Erin Kraus

    Hi David,

    Thanks for contacting us. I think your fake branch idea is a good one. Using a real branch could introduce pests into the building. The freshly cut branch will also have that new wood odor which may harm other artifacts if they are displayed nearby. Coating the leaves seems like a lot of trouble for something that could be shown as an illustration, photograph, or a fake branch.

    Those are my first thoughts, but I can’t say I know a lot about displaying freshly cut branches. If the person is adamant about using the real branch I can reach out to some experts about precautions to take for display.

  • #136621

    David C

    Hi Erin,

    If you could reach out to some experts I would appreciate it. Maybe they also have information on how to preserve the leaves. Maybe a waxy spray? Years ago as a child we use to collect leaves then iron them between wax paper. I’ve looked on-line for Poplar trees and found only one company. Unfortunately it looks like a skimpy branch with green/brown floral tape.

    The Town Historian plans on setting the branch upright in the corner of the Pump Mill Museum. The branch is actually a 7′ section of a tree with several branches with leaves. Poplar trees were used in the making of pulp (highly compressed slurry of tree fibers and in our case, made from Poplar trees). The pulp was dried and shipped in “blocks” to paper mills to be made into paper.

    Thanks – David

  • #136622

    Carolyn Schimandle

    Totally agree that you do not want real plant in museum, unless you have absolutely no museum collections items in there and you don’t care if you introduce pests (or insecticides, if you spray for pests).

    This may be too expensive for a small local museum, but there are companies that make custom replicas for interpretive displays. That is how a lot of museums and visitor centers have solved the problem. I’ve seen some really nice trees and tree limbs in exhibits. I don’t know a company off the top of my head, but you could try checking the National Association for Interpretation’s Green Pages.

  • #136629

    David C

    I agree there should not be real plants in Museums. Unfortunately this Museum has MANY avenues for pests to get inside. It is a 20′ square building on a cement slab with open stud walls and a pine door (propped open to summer visitors). It has an open vaulted roof to a cupola with un-screened vents. On display are photos and a huge iron pulp making machine. It is in a woodsy area close to a roaring creek with tall pine trees all around the area.

    I’ve seen some nice looking fake trees in natural looking settings at our State Museum in Albany, NY. I’ll contact them for a source of fake trees.

  • #136639

    Erin Kraus

    Hi David,

    I have heard back from one of our C2C Care experts. She says there are possible ways to keep the real leaves, but they’re very difficult. The coating may keep the leaves green, but it would still be impossible to keep the leaves clean. The coating also wouldn’t prevent the leaves from becoming brittle and crumbling apart.

    She suggests using a real branch and heat treating it to prevent a pest infestation like powder post beetles. Remind them to always monitor for pest activity just in case. This website provides information on heat treating.

    Museum Pest Network

    Once they have heat treated the real branch they can replace the leaves with silk leaves. This will be more cost effective than a complete replica.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  • #136640

    Erin Kraus

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