Hello everyone! The museum I am creating mounts for has selected three particular helmets to display, which all contain asbestos. Currently they have a layer of mylar sealing off the inside, secured with archival tape. One is slated for a tabletop display, but two have been designed to be mounted off the wall like most helmet mounts. The conservator has asked that I keep them sealed somehow, and for at least one of them I am not to put anything (like ethafoam) on the inside due to the deterioration of the interior. The only options that I can come up with are 1) that all three need to stay sealed with the mylar and tape, and simply sit on a surface covered by mylar. 2) To try to affix acrylic to the bottom of the helmet using brass hooks inserted into the acrylic, that curve around the edge of the bottom, and thread a brass rod through the middle of the acrylic to hold it up and off the wall. I really am not sure about the second idea even working or being secure, so if anyone has any ideas, I'd truly be thankful! Also, I've tried Googling information about asbestos and how it would affect the other objects in an enclosed space over time, and if there are any scavengers that take care of asbestos - I have not had any luck finding information. Do we just need to worry about our lungs, or can it pose additional problems? Thank you for reading, and for your time!
Artifacts Lead / Metal Fabricator II
solomongroupTHE ART OF BRINGING STORIES TO LIFE.
Shaynna,I think you second idea is best, I would recommend either 5/16" or 3/8" thickness so that you have enough meat to drill and insert your rod without chance of breaking the plex. You could also tap and thread the plex and your mount rod for a good secure fit. Good luck.
Exhibits/Mount-making and Lighting
Milwaukee Public Museum
Jamie Hascall 7/25/18
Hi Shaynna, This is a difficult problem from a lot of angles. First, I feel you’ve been placed in a situation that should not be your concern. You have been given a group of objects that have been recognized as hazardous. Finding a way to make them safe should not be your job, especially as an outside firm hired by in institution. With that said, let’s look at the practical aspects of the problem. Asbestos, being a fiber and not a volatile substance, needs to be fully contained or removed. It cannot be scavenged or absorbed in any way. It is extremely light and can be inhaled deeply into the lungs where it can cause changes, specifically Mesothelioma and Asbestosis. At present, you state that the helmets are sealed with mylar and archival tape. At no time should this sealed layer be disturbed by anyone in any place other than a proper hood with appropriate filtration and air flow. If there are fibers that are free from the helmet, but within the sealed envelope, they cannot be let to escape into the museum environment. If the conservator is concerned, you should be as well. The display of these objects in a sealed state may be acceptable. Your concept of an acrylic base plate held to the edges with clips mechanically fastened to the pate sounds like a reasonable tactic as long as it is secure to the object and does not disturb the sealed envelope. I feel that any sort of normal “helmet mount” inside the object, even if still sealed by a flexible membrane such as thin polyethylene, is possibly going to liberate additional fibers and cause further contamination. The thought of them simply sitting on a surface is good and I wonder if they can sit on some sort of shelf to have them in the designed position but still remain without specific mounts? No matter what, the less handling and intervention of any sort is the best. Please keep us posted, Jamie Jamie Hascall Craftsman, Trainer, Consultant Mountmakingfocus.com firstname.lastname@example.org Seattle, WA
Philip Brutz 7/25/18
Can the asbestos be removed without changing the appearance of the helmets? We once had a Faberge piece that was a dandelion seed head that was made of asbestos. The asbestos was the seed head and could not be removed without destroying the object. We treated as hazardous material.
Philip Brutz Mount Maker The Cleveland Museum of Art 216-707-2617
Dauphin Acrylic 7/26/18
Could always leave tabs on the acrylic to then heat and fold over after, instead of the brass. Not meaning to deliberately plug our work but see the anchor stand here https://www.instagram.com/p/BkipfqWgOar/?taken-by=dauphinacrylic , im sure you all know what we mean. Alex Dauphin
Thank you for the ideas everyone! Philip, unfortunately removing the asbestos would be the museum's call, and it looks like they aren't planning on doing that. Jamie, thank you for your advice and information, yet again! I was worried I was being overly sensitive to being asked to handle asbestos, so I wanted to see what the consensus was here before I suggested any changes. What you mentioned about the shelf was basically the idea I was getting at with my first idea of just having them sit on a surface staying sealed. We have a few other items we'll need to create shelving for, so I was hoping to present all the shelving ideas together and include these in that grouping. I'll let y'all know how everything turns out! Thank you! -Shaynna