Housekeeping, in all its elements, is our front line in the battle to protect the nation’s heritage.

There are many things in the environment that are conspiring to damage our collection: dust, light, too much or too little humidity and pests. The better we tackle these threats at source, the less we have to treat the damage later on (if the damage is even repairable). Treatments and repairs are a last resort.

The regular dusting of objects on open display does more than make them visually pleasing. Dust attracts moisture, insects and rodents, all of which cause damage to objects. The Conservation and Preservation team leads on the Integrated Pest Management programme.

Most objects are vulnerable to environmental conditions such as light levels, temperature and relative humidity. Paper objects such as prints, drawings and books, textiles, painted surfaces, leather and parchment, metal and wood are all susceptible to environmental damage. These objects need to be protected and their conditions monitored to avoid further deterioration. Placing objects in display cases - where environmental and light levels can be controlled - is one solution, but not always possible. We try to regulate display conditions as best we can in all gallery areas.