|City Of Angels Conservation||
So one of your treasures has just been damaged. What do you do?
First, almost any object of art and history can be saved. Unless it is completely burned to carbon or vaporized something can be done.
So - before you do anything take photos of the object and it's damage. Do not move it or pick up any pieces until you do. If this is something damaged in shipment, leave it in the box or crate, and photograph it in place, and make sure you get good photos of the container and packing materials. All of this documentation is important for insurance purposes.
You can now collect all the pieces if it is broken. But first determine where you are moving them to and make sure you have a clear path and space. Start with the largest pieces first. If the size is managable pack or wrap individual pieces in tissue paper, zip loc bags, or bubble wrap if they are inorganic (ceramic, stone, glass, plastic, metal). Do not put lots of pieces in a box or bag where they can rub and bang around. If you have an organic object then pack fragments in tissue paper, undyed linen, paper bags, tyvek, or any material that can breathe. Organic objects can be composed of wood, leather, shell, ivory, bone, textile, and more. Please make sure to collect all pieces, even the small ones.
If your object has water damage move it to a nearby table on top of a clean towel (*Note - If it is a sewer backup or hazardous spill then get an expert with proper protective personal equipment do this). If the object is inorganic (ceramic, stone, glass, metal, plastic), you can have a bucket or tray of clean water and gently rinse, then you can drain any water trapped inside or in crevices, and pat it dry with clean soft towels - do not rub or wipe surfaces as that can make things worse. Then run a dehumidifer or fan to dry everything out. If you have an inorganic object (wood, leather, shell, bone, textile, etc.) it can be more complex. Some dyes and paints and adhesives dissolve in water. Also since organic objects absorb and release moisture you want to dry them in a very controlled way. So it is best to not be aggressive but gentle. You do want to slowly dry as well as to have the ambient temperature cool (at or under 70 degrees) to avoid mold and mildew growth. Since time can be critical for organic objects you should contact a conservator right away.
If something is spilled on your object - or if outdoors and it is stained or vandalized with spray paint - do not attempt to clean yourself. Home cleaning can make things worse. So call a conservator.
Major causes of damage can range from pets to people, fires and floods, earthquakes and vibration, spills, and more. Make sure people and pets are safe first, and when you can then follow the suggestions above, then call a conservator.
You will be amazed how well a broken or damaged object can be restored!