Generous Grant Protects Metal Objects


By Robyn Haynie, Assistant Director of Collections and Exhibitions | Conservator

The UMFA’s collections team wrapped up a three-year project in 2018 to assess, document, and treat metal objects in urgent need of attention. The $90,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) supported the conservation project in whole.

The project began in 2015 with a systematic condition survey of all two-thousand metal objects in the collection. This information was then updated in the Museum’s collections database. UMFA staff prioritized which objects needed urgent treatment and then recruited pre-program specific conservation interns to help. 

Staff and interns treated copper alloy objects showing signs of a particularly damaging type of corrosion called “Bronze disease.” This corrosion progresses through the entire metal body of the object, eventually eating away all of the metal and leaving behind a shell of corrosion if left untreated. The interns carefully cleaned away the surface corrosion and applied a protective chemical coating to stabilize the surface and prevent future outbreaks.

Another key aspect of this project was making sure that every metal object in the collection was photographed and the images made available in the Museum’s internal and public database. UMFA collections photographer Addie Ryder has spearheaded that process with a number of interns. 

Explore the galleries to view metal objects housed in the UMFA permanent collection.