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SiLK - Guidelines for the protection of cultural property

10. Pests and mold


In collections held by museums, libraries and archives, above all objects made of organic substances can be attacked and destroyed by insects and microorganisms.
In nature's life cycle, abiotic and biotic processes very quickly cause irreversible changes, degradation and transformation in organic materials and substances. Artworks and cultural artifacts made of such materials are no exception. Objects in museums are attacked most frequently by biotic processes. Owing to the often hidden nature of pests, an infestation can begin slowly and imperceptibly. If suitable conditions exist, however, an outbreak can spread very rapidly and cause enormous damage.

The staff concerned must therefore always be vigilant and carry out routine monitoring. Any infestations can then be spotted quickly and action can be taken to eliminate them. Museum staff must therefore have a basic knowledge of the biology of museum-relevant pests and be aware of the latest findings on how best to prevent and deal with outbreaks.

An essential first step for efficient long-term preventive protection and treatment measures is the correct identification of the pest concerned.


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