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Ridding collections of pests once and for all

December 20, 2013

Vacuuming Day2
Membership Coordinator Lisa Fuller uses tweezers and a vacuum to remove dead insects from an oriental carpet.


Insects and other pests are a fact of life in all museum collections. At Historic New England, we try our best to prevent major outbreaks, but they do happen. After a particularly warm, wet spring, Historic New England's collection services team was called to several of our properties to investigate large outbreaks of object-eating pests.

Luckily, we are able to kill these pests in a safe, non-toxic way in our carbon dioxide fumigation chamber, known as "the Bubble."  Even after the pests are dead, however, they remain nestled in the objects and have to be cleaned out with tweezers and thorough vacuuming.

Vacuuming Day Volunteers
Many Historic New England staff members teamed up to make light work of the large carpets treated in the Bubble.

With the large quantity of objects we treated, the collection services team needed help with post-Bubble vacuuming. We put out a call across the organization for fellow staff to come to our collections storage facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts, for two days of intensive object vacuuming.

The response was overwhelming! Twenty-four staff volunteers spent two days working on large carpets, clothing, doll clothes and hats, and mattresses. The adage "many hands made light work" certainly proved true.

Historic New England is the only institution in the region offering museum-quality fumigation services to individuals and other organizations. Learn more about renting the Bubble to protect your collections.

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Ridding collections of pests once and for all