A question that we often get
asked is why conservators sometimes wear gloves and sometimes
don’t when handling museum objects.
Although we emphasise wearing gloves when handling objects,
there are actually no set rules.
The conservator makes a decision
材料 任务 特性 脆弱性
on whether or not to wear gloves depending on the material,
the task and the nature and fragility of theobject.
The diversity of objects requires
that we assess each object individually and make the right decision.
One of the few object types
that we work with that you don’t need to use gloves with is
what we call ‘brown furniture’.
Brown furnitureobjects are often jointed, they’re wooden,
and they have a veneer on them and what you tend to find is that,
with the exception of highly decorative French polished surfaces,
these objects are robust enough and their
surface coatings are robust enough
for us to be able to handle them without gloves.
When handling metal objects gloves are normally worn
in order to avoid damaging the object.
Acids and oils from fingers can have a corrosive effect on metals –
in particular this is a problem with historical metals –
these can etch into the surface, can be very difficult
to remove and can ultimately affect the integrityof the object.
An important aspect of wearing nitro-gloves is not just to protect the objects
but also to protect the people handling the objects.
Many of the objects in our collection have
components that are inherently toxic or hazardous.
There are many other objects that have been
被刻意污染过 比如 有毒的武器
purposely contaminated such as poisoned weapons.
As organic materials are particularly vulnerable
to being attacked by pests they were treated
with a vast array of pesticides from the 18th century up until the 1990s.
That is why it is crucial to wear gloves when handling objects
with suspected or confirmed contamination.
Wearing gloves also protects us from hazardoussubstances.
For example, mould can sometimes
be found on ceramic objects, as in the case of this terracotta figurine.
When handling hazardous objects conservators
always make sure to dispose of gloves after use.
In the past,
conservators at the British Museum
wore white cotton gloves and apparently each
conservator had only one pair.
Nowadays, conservatorsprefer to wear disposable, nitrile gloves
which will protect them from objects and visaversa.
There are a few main points when choosingthe right glove.
Firstly: the size.
It is very important to wear the right sized glove in order to prevent
any handling damage to the objects.
Secondly: the thickness of the glove.
Obviously, the thicker gloves are more protective for us,
but they also create problems for ourmanual dexterity.
Thirdly, not to wear dirty or torn gloves when working on objects
as this defeats the main purpose of wearing gloves in the first place.
When we conserve documents, prints and drawings,
we don’t usually use gloves.
handle them with dry, clean hands.
Hand washingwill remove the dirt and the natural oils
from hands and is an effective alternativeto using gloves.
When working with wall paintings
we generally wear gloves to protect the objects.
There are fragile pigments on the surface and the oils
on our hands will affect the pigment and the colour.
They also might wear awaythe surface.
The gloves just prevent damage,
and in this case we’ve created an edge
to handle the objects so we avoid touching the object itself.
When treating archaeological objects
such as painted polychrome Egyptian coffins
we tend to wear gloves.
We want to make sure
that we’re not transferring any dirt or dust
that’s on the surface to other areas
on the object as well as on to ourselves.
From a health and safety perspective,
Egyptian pigments were actually made from ground minerals, and
this is why the colours remain so vibranttoday.
However, some of the pigments are actually
made from toxic minerals such
as orpiment and realgar
which is used to make some yellows as well as some reds
and these can be hazardous to your health if ingested.
在处理更小 更精致的藏品时 我们会使用镊子
When we deal with smaller and more delicate tasks we use tweezers
and this actually means that you don’t have
to touch the surface of the object.
So sometimesyou’ll see conservators not wearing gloves
because you’re not handling the object.
Often as Textile Conservators we choose not to
wear gloves and work with our bare hands.
That is because sometimes we really need
that extra sensitivity through our fingertips to
be able to carry out our work and
also to really understand the inherent fragility and
strengths of the materials that we’re workingwith.
As you can see conservators wear gloves depending
on the type of objects and the work they carry out on them.
And when there’s any doubt on how to handle objects
they are the best people to get advice from.