Artifact Preservation Tips

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Listed below are tips that will guide you in caring for your own modeling collection.

For more information please contact Maria VanVreede at 765-287-1256, ext. 508.  

1) Write it down

• Keeping an up-to-date inventory of what you own will not only help you when you are wondering if you need to purchase another Cox engine, but writing down information on how you obtained an item, how and when you used it, and why it is important to you, gives the object context that would be missing when you are no longer around.

Model airplanes at the National Model Aviation Museum are stored wrapped in acid-free tissue paper.
2) Cover them up

• Wrap stored models in plain linen muslin, or acid-free tissue paper to limit surface dust and exposure to light.
• Do not use newspaper, bubble wrap, or foam for long term storage as they will damage the model further as they breakdown.
• Check out places like or to purchase acid-free materials.

3) Put them away

• Smaller objects should be stored in an acid-free box with a lid, or a sealable plastic tub lined with plain linen muslin, or acid-free tissue paper.
• Keeping the items in the box will limit surface dust, exposure to light, pests and damage due to flooding.
• Place more plain linen muslin or acid-free tissue paper around each item in the box so that the objects are well padded and do not touch.
• Boxes have the added advantage of making objects easier to find, and move when necessary.

4) Store them higher

• Storing an object at least six inches off the floor will decrease the number of bugs that get into it, as well as the likelihood of damage from flooding.

5) Do not store or display planes in an area with frequent and rapid temperature and relative humidity changes.

• Many of the materials used in building models, like balsa and tissue are organic-based materials that expand when hot and contract when cold. This constant temperature movement will cause the materials to break and tear over time.


A patch recently removed from exhibit at the National Model Aviation Museum that is yellowed from the adhesive used to display it.
6) Do not use solvents or adhesives on the object

• Solvents and adhesives leave chemical residue on an object that can continue to act on the model even after it has been wiped off.
• Spray pesticides can stain objects very easily. Do not spray pesticide on any objects, or in your storage area. To control pests, use glue traps instead.
• If you are cleaning an older model or object with a non-porous covering, try vacuuming the dirt off first and then cleaning with a compound called Orvus paste. Orvus also works well for cleaning fabric items. It is available from most feed stores, as well as quilting suppliers.

The users of this fuel tank literally left their mark on it.  Their fingerprints are clearly seen etched into the top from the natural oils in their skin, as well as the chemicals they were handling. When handling any objects acids in human skin, along with any dirt or other material on a person's hands is left behind on the object's surface.  Over time, this acid, dirt and grime can etch into the object, causing damage.  Here you can clearly see the fingerprints of the handler on the top of this fuel tank.
Buying acid-free materials may seem like an expensive extra step, but it pays off in the long run.  The common gray foam shown here is highly acidic, and after about twenty years has not only broken apart, but adhered itself to the camera.  Imagine if it had adhered itself to the sensitive covering of a model. Most common materials contain chemical that break down over time.  The chemicals in this common gray foam have caused it to come apart and adhere to the surface of the video camera it was supposed to protect.