Cleaning the Museum Without Damage

Includes a Live Event on 10/10/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)


We all think we know how to clean. After all, we do it at home. We dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, polish the silver, and wash the floor.  However, the methods we use at home have the potential of causing damage to the collections under our care. Accumulation of dust is both unsightly and damaging. Dirt tracked in from outdoors can damage the wooden floor and historic floor coverings. 
When you complete this course you will have a basic introduction of how to clean without damaging cultural property. In four webinars we cannot possibly cover cleaning all types of collections that might be in your institution, but we can give you the tools and resources to develop strategies on how to approach museum/historic housekeeping. The main goal of this course then is to introduce you to the most essential museum housekeeping methodology and resources.
By participating in this course, you will:
  • Develop awareness of risks to collections related to cleaning  
  • Determine how to approach cleaning and develop housekeeping strategies. 
  • Acquire basic housekeeping skills for cultural property. 
  • Develop the basics of a housekeeping plan. 
  • Fee: The basic cost for this course is $149.00. 
  • Those who register by August 29, 2019 will receive a $50 discount (use code C2CC50)
  • Those who register by September 19, 2019 will receive a $20 discount (use code C2CC20)
Our Course Coordinator is Gretchen Anderson, Conservator, Department Head, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA
 Week 1: Introduction to cleaning methods 
 Week 2: Case studies in cleaning methods   
 Week 3 Case study in cleaning: mold with Susan Duhl   
 Week 4: Cleaning plan: Standard operating procedures with Paul S. Storch

Connecting to Collections Care courses are made possible in part by generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Webinar One: Introduction to cleaning methods
10/10/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
10/10/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes In this webinar, we will cover the following topics: • To Clean or not to clean – the why of housekeeping • Preventive conservation • Health and Safety • Choosing supplies
Assignment - Week One
Graded as Pass/Fail
Graded as Pass/Fail
Webinar Two: Cleaning Methods: Chemistry & Physics of cleaning with case studies
10/17/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
10/17/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes • Dry cleaning methods o Particulates - What is dust? o What does it do to our objects? o Methods to safely remove particulates • Wet cleaning methods o Why we do not use commercial products o Chemistry of solvents – How they work o Water as a solvent o What soap does • Choosing supplies • Textiles • Metals – to polish or not o Case Study - Cleaning silver
Assignment - Week Two
Graded as Pass/Fail
Graded as Pass/Fail
Webinar Three: Case Study in cleaning: mold with Susan Duhl
10/24/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
10/24/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes • Mold defined • Risks to collection • Health and safety • Methods for dealing with mold
Assignment - Week Three
Graded as Pass/Fail
Graded as Pass/Fail
Webinar Four: The Cleaning Plan: Standard operating procedures
10/31/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
10/31/2019 at 2:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes • Team Work: Putting a Cleaning team together • Training • Priorities and Responsibilities • Written Procedures • Schedules
Final Assignment
Graded as Pass/Fail | Due Date: 11/08/2019
Graded as Pass/Fail | Due Date: 11/08/2019

Gretchen Anderson (Moderator)

Conservator, Department Head, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA

Gretchen Anderson has been the conservator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History since 2009, where she works to strengthen collections care by improving environmental conditions throughout the museum, exhibitions, and storage. Prior to that, she founded the Conservation Department at the Science Museum of Minnesota in 1989. There, she developed collection care standards for natural history collections, including preventive care through housekeeping, integrated pest management, storage, and exhibition. She has taught these methods through workshops, in the classroom, and through long distance learning since 1995 and currently teaches on-line classes through Museum Studies LLC. Gretchen is dedicated to teaching preventive conservation practices to colleagues and to the public. When possible, she and her volunteers work in the public view, demonstrating cleaning methods and explaining where dust comes from to the visitor.

Gretchen is an active member of the American Institute for Conservation and in the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, where she served as co-chair of the Conservation Committee with Dr. R. R. Waller.


Susan Duhl

Art Conservator/Collections Consultant

Susan Duhl is an Art Conservator and Collections Consultant, specializing in disaster prevention and strategic recovery of art, archival, and historic collections from natural, mechanical and man-made disasters. She is an active volunteer with the American Institute for Conservation National Heritage Response team. Controlling mold in collections became an area of interest while confronting disasters.

Paul S. Storch

Collections and Exhibits Liaison - Historic Properties

Paul S. Storch is an Objects conservator with broad experience including work in research and treatment of archaeological, natural history, and historic objects, with specialties in metals, leather, wood, and composite materials. For the past 10 years, Storch has been the Collections and Exhibits Liaison (Project Manager) in the Facilities-Historic Properties unit at the Minnesota Historical Society.  Responsibilities include collections inventories at over 20 historic sites and museums around Minnesota, exhibits maintenance and development, pest control, environmental monitoring, and managing conservation projects at sites.

He has written extensively and spoken about instrumental analysis on metal cleaning methods, materials identification, and deterioration of organic materials, as well as producing a series of bulletins for Minnesota Tech Talk on various conservation topics geared to curators and archaeologists. Storch has consulted with museums around the country as a CAP Assessor and with the MNHS Legacy Grant Program.  He is an active conservation grant reviewer with several granting agencies.

What are C2C Care Courses?

         Our courses offer the chance to have a more interactive participation with instructors and to concentrate on a series of webinars devoted to a specific topic with the possibility to check on your understanding of new materials. Courses can include a variety of activities including just watching the live webinars, to discussions with your fellow participants, and to completing a project designed to help you apply what was covered in the course.

Who are the instructors?

       Our webinar coordinators are leaders in their field and they choose instructors who they feel are not only leaders but, who understand the setting and milieu of those working in smaller institutions that may not have access to professional help. We find our instructors with our participants in mind.

 How much time will I need to commit?

         You may commit as much time as you wish, however, the minimum time is about 2-3 hours per week – including the time for live webinars.

What if I can’t watch all of the Course Webinars “live”?

The recordings of the webinars will be posted soon after the “live” webinars. If you miss a live webinar, you will have access through the Course set-up and be able to watch the webinar at a later time, as long as you do so during the Course period. You will need to keep up with the webinars to be able to participate fully in the other course activities.

What do I need to do to earn a Credly badge?

  1. View all webinars – these can be viewed either live or the recordings as long as they are viewed during the Course period. 
  2. Participate in Discussions and other interactive portions of the Course.
  3. Complete any projects that are part of the Course.

 What can I do with a Credly badge?

         A Credly badge ( is an electronic acknowledgement that you have completed a learning objective that can be linked to your social media, to a profile on LinkedIn, or to your digital resume. The badge links refer an employer or a prospective employer to the Badge that contains a capsule of what you did to earn the badge and an introduction to the organization granting the badge. Learn more about how to take advantage of an earned badge here It is an acknowledgement of professional development activity, that you learned a new skill, and that you are part of the community of lifelong learners. 

 For additional FAQs, see