Many objects in a museum collection require conservation treatment to extend their longevity, and First Nations basketry is no exception. Treating baskets requires multiple steps, but the general philosophy is simple: reduce the effects of damage in a controlled, documented, and reversible way.
The first step of conversation is documentation. Once this is complete, it is time to treat the basket. Conservators consider a lot during the treatment of an object including fragility, materials, and the object’s continuing health. The first round of cleaning is usually ‘dry’ cleaning. This includes brushing surface dust and debris from the object, as well as using cosmetic sponges to remove adhered dirt or accretions from the surface. Dry cleaning is an effective way to gently remove most of the dirt and dust from an object without being aggressive or invasive (because causing extra damage to the object only means more work later). In my experience with the basketry collection at the MOA, most require dry cleaning only. Read more