Sometimes the damage is not obvious - high temperatures change the
microstructure of a metal object.
This may destroy valuable information on the way the object was made.
This early 20th century travelling trunk was damaged by smoke in a house fire, and had to be cleaned once
acquired by the museum. Water from fire hoses and sprinklers can also cause severe damage.
Fire is not just a problem for the conservator
- it can also be used to help identify materials. For example,
the way a fibre burns tells us what sort of fibre it is - vegetal (eg cotton), protein (eg wool) or synthetic (eg nylon).
Burnt ivory is used in ivory black; a pigment
made by grinding burnt ivory with oil.
Back to The Suspects
A 19th century travelling trunk damaged by smoke in a house fire