2015-07

2015-07

This study identifies the presence of diverse bacterial communities inhabiting the surface of collections throughout the museum setting regardless of storage, history, subject and preservation treatment. Equally present on collection items from educational to zoological to anthropological, identified bacteria represent commonly-occurring species, many of which are human associated as would be expected given the handling and storage conditions of many collections. Interestingly, the types of bacteria seem to be heavily influenced by both the presence of arsenic (for arsenic-preserved collections) and the material composition of the item (e.g., feather versus hide). The continued identification and characterization of museum-associated bacteria will lead to an increased understanding of the degradation of artifacts, as well as possible new approaches to the handling and storage of sensitive collections. Finally, this work provides background information on the bacteria already existing on the surface of arsenic-treated materials which may influence the efficiency of a newly proposed, novel bacterial-based remediation technology for the removal of arsenic and mercury from museum collections

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
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