Museum Victoria’s collection consists of more than 16.6 million natural science specimens and cultural artefacts. With some of the objects aged more than 180 years old, accurate records of their composition, preservation substances and history are not always available.
As a risk management priority, Museum Victoria needed to:
find an accurate non-invasive method of determining what substances had been used to prepare the objects
more broadly, understand and manage the risks present in the State collection.
The project’s aim was to effectively and efficiently identify substances used in preparing collections via a portable, hand-held device that could be transported to the collection’s location.
The VMIA helped to fund the purchase of an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) unit to meet the brief. The XRF unit fires x-rays at an object and measures the different fluorescence rates of substances.
Use of the unit on a sample of objects has resulted in the clear identification of the materials used in the preparation and preservation of objects. Safety protocols and procedures for handling the objects have been developed which contribute to Museum Victoria’s risk program, ensuring that objects are safe to display to the public or to lend to other institutions.