Repairing a Bird Specimen
Volunteer Susan Hochgraf reattaches the head of a cardinal (Richmondena
cardinalis) in the Peabody’s Education Department teaching collection.
Museum conservation has moved away from the active treatment of specimens and objects to the practice of what we call preventive conservation. This is an approach used by the Peabody’s Conservation Laboratory,
since active treatment generally involves invasive techniques that can
alter specimens. There are times, however, when active treatment is
Treatment is undertaken when the life of a specimen is in danger, for example, when water-soluble salts in an artifact or specimen are causing it to crumble to dust. Infestation by webbing cloths moths or dermestid beetles also requires prompt treatment.
When artifacts and specimens are broken, they are usually repaired, especially if they are required for exhibition or education programs. Repairs are made to ensure the stability of a specimen and sometimes to keep detached elements from getting lost or broken. Repairs can also help researchers, for example, by enabling them to measure more accurately eggs in the collections.