Protecting your items involves more than simply placing them in acid-free containers. Storage of non-paper, three-dimensional artifacts can require special care.
Handle textiles with care. Ensure that hands are clean, remove all jewelry, and do not use hand lotions or products when handling. Clean cotton gloves will keep textiles clean, but can abrade very fragile surfaces. As when doing all archival storage, work on a clean, flat surface. Place fragile items on a padded worktable covered with cotton sheeting. Be careful to support the entire textile at all times.
Textiles can be stored flat in boxes, rolled on tubes, or hanging on padded hangers. Flat storage is best for delicate, fragile, and stretchy textiles. When storing textiles in boxes, be sure to pad all folds with tissue paper or unbleached cotton muslin. Fold textiles as little as possible, and support all sleeves and detailed areas with tissue, muslin, or polyester batting. See Buffered vs. Unbuffered Storage Materials for more information on choosing a material).
Rolled storage works well for large collections of flat textiles, such as rugs and quilts. Use tissue or muslin to wrap the tube and to draw the textile onto the tube. Consider using a barrier between the tube and the textile, such as polyester, MarvelSeal, or tissue. Use a protective material such as tissue, Tyvek, polyester, or muslin, to wrap around the textile after rolling to protect from dust and abrasion.
Hanging storage is good for sturdier garments when space is limited. Always use padded hangers or pad hangers with stockinette and polyester batting, and cover the garment in a dust cover.
The size, shape, and material of each individual artifact will dictate its storage. Small collections can be easily organized in divided boxes, while larger items may need individual boxes and extra support.
Protect artifacts from physical damage by cushioning containers with crumpled tissue, batting or foam. Objects should be boxed individually or, if grouped, separated so they won’t come in contact with each other. Minimize handling by using clear boxes or by placing labels prominently on the outside of containers.
Choose materials for storing natural history collections that that offer stability and physical protection. Avoid buffered papers and boards for any collections involving animal proteins. Reduce handling and lost artifacts by labeling the artifact, when possible, or by including the label in or on the enclosure.
For all objects, provide a clean, stable environment with moderate temperature and RH, and minimize handling.