This research project looked at the effectiveness of different touching deterrent methods used for the collections on open display at The Fitzwilliam Museum.
It is understood within the conservation sector that touching can have a detrimental effect on materials and accelerate deterioration. There is a lively and active discussion in the conservation and museum sector about what can be done to offer increased access to collections while not compromising conservation principles.
There is much anecdotal evidence of which methods are more effective than others. Further insight was gained by looking at the frequency of touching, the type of visitor, the gallery environment, whether some types of collection are touched more than others (e.g. furniture, sculpture, religious items) and the variety of deterrent methods already in use.
Understanding the efficacy of deterrence methods would allowed for a more informed approach to displaying objects. Through this research, we hoped to improve protection for the collections from wear and tear caused by touching, while maintaining curatorial integrity, visitor enjoyment and education.
Helena Rodwell, Assistant Conservator (Collections Care) facilitated this project in order to gather knowledge from staff and volunteers, as well as to obtain quantifiable data through observation in the galleries and engaging with visitors on the topic. Information on the results can be found here.