I know, not the most thrilling topic, but IPM is something vitally important to all museums and protection of their collections. Bug traps, one of the many forms of IPM, can be seen in any collections store I can think of, and you may even notice a few tucked into corners of larger displays. These tiny, white triangles are used to monitor whether there is insect activity, and then to judge if these insects are harmful, and to what degree. Insects can cause serious damage by eating certain types of materials, like fabrics, or leave debris and frass behind.
Why am I bringing this up? A few months (ah! already??) ago, I was at the Globe theatre exhibition, which is overall a good history of the theatre itself as well as costuming, props, and how plays were staged, but noticed a few of these bug traps. Unfortunately, it seems they were being used as actual bug traps, and not monitoring devices. Every one I saw was full of bugs, and I saw bugs and bug casings on several costumes. A sign they aren’t being used correctly? They should be used for monitoring, and then to use that info to better protect collections. Do collections staff need to be better educated about IPM? Hopefully this wasn’t a sign of an overwhelming infestation! But on the other hand, it could be a sign that collections care is being neglected; unfortunately something that seems to be happening all over. Collections care isn’t glitzy or fun or exciting (for most people, anyway), so often times it seems like this is where budgets are cut. In the long term though, this can be hugely damaging as collections- the resource of any museum- suffers behind the scenes, unfortunately to the point where damage may be irreparable. This can then lead to a loss of research potential, ideas for programming, availability for future generations, etc. Collections are at the core of museums, so they need to be taken care of too, even if its not exciting. Once these objects are gone, they are gone.
Take care of your collections, and monitor those bug traps!