Museum Cleaning: What You Need To Know To Look Polished

|August 30, 2021

When it comes to museum cleaning, depending on the type of museum, you’ll find that a lot of people give importance to certain cleaning methods and practices which focus on preserving museum installations and artifacts. Of course, we support this approach and encourage museum staff and personnel to follow it seriously. The last thing you’d want is to irreparably damage a two thousand year-old dinosaur skeleton with a bottle of Lysol (sorry Lysol!).

What we also encourage is to take a visitor-friendly approach. It’s not so much that museum visitors go to museums to enjoy their cleanliness; they go for the presentation of preserved history. But a trip to a dirty, contaminated museum may mean you have less repeat visitors, and not a great rapport with potential future patrons. Here’s what you need to know about museum cleaning to make sure your museum looks polished:

Create a Specific Checklist

Most museums feature the following: exterior, entrances, common areas, galleries, installations, exhibits, storage areas, administrative offices, breakrooms, bathrooms, and more. Looking polished requires a cleaning checklist that’s specific to each area. Here is a museum cleaning checklist to help you get started!

Mimic the Experts

There’s no better way to keep your museum looking polished than to follow the advice of Lorraine Cornish, the Head of Conservation at The Natural History Museum, one of the world’s most famous and prestigious. Her advice, which you may read here, includes understanding how your museum’s attractions attract contaminants, using “dry” cleaning, storing museum items more strategically, monitoring the environment for heat, light, and dust levels, and creating an effective cleaning schedule. Wise words from the person responsible for maintaining a museum that consistently attracts thousands of visitors a year!

Break It Down 

Even with a cleaning schedule and checklist, if you want to ensure your museum looks polished it’s necessary to break down the different areas and objects that need to be cleaned. In other words, you shouldn’t clean everything all at once. Instead, look to isolate different areas at different times, then categorize the things that need to be cleaned within that space and get to work in an order and manner that makes the most sense!

Identify What You’re Cleaning

One way to keep your museum looking clean and polished is to make sure you are cleaning things the way they’re supposed to be cleaned. The same tools, cleaning solutions, and methods shouldn’t be used on everything, let alone on the items and artifacts that your museum holds. So, what are those things?

Outside of the things that all museums have in common – walls, floors, doors, furniture, glass, and other surfaces – these things may include glass, ceramics, leather, metal, textiles, books and paper, wooden objects, photographs, and more. Each type of material requires a different set of tools, cleaning materials, and methods of cleaning. Not sure which to use? Check out this museum cleaning guide!

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