NCPC Annual Conference Nov. 13, 2017

I was anxious to attend the North Carolina Preservation Consortium conference this year for several reasons: seeing my colleagues and firming up teaching commitments, as well as wishing outgoing Executive Director, Robert James well. The conference was held at The McKimmon Conference and Training Center of NC State University.The conference was entitled: Battling the Bloom: Mold Protection for Collections.

The first speaker, Wayne Thomann, is the Director of Occupational and Environmental Safety for Duke University and is a public health specialist. Thomann made it clear that lay terminology makes little difference between mold and mildew, but the fungi are ubiquitous in the environment. In order for fungal growth to occur, moisture must be present. Most mold problems exist because of poor moisture control in HVAC systems, and so if you can control the moisture, you can control mold growth.

With that groundwork laid, the second speaker Susan Duhl began. Susan is a conservator specializing in paper in archival collections. She is part of the National Heritage Responders group which is [art of the american Institute for Conservation (AIC) and deployed during Hurricane Sandy and Katrina. Susan Duhl’s main takeaway was: mold is everywhere and cannot be killed-only controlled. Echoing Thomann, Susan said you control mold through stringent climate control. To control mold, she recommended Relative Humidity between 45-55% and a temperature below 68 degrees. Duhl described cleanup procedures and establishing a clean space for storage. Alcohol-preferably ethanol is the best deterrent for mold and for surface cleaning you should use Quaternary ammonia.

David Goist, a paintings conservator from Asheville, who is also a National Heritage Responder described techniques for treating damaged canvases through his vast experience, including Hurricane Floyd.

Corey Smith Riley is an objects conservator who is in private practice in Raleigh. She described some of the issues related to treating wood, metal and stone objects in collections.

This was an amazing and well planned group of speakers on an important topic. I learned a lot and believe it was well worth it to attend.