Hazardous Storage
Image: Fish specimens are typically preserved in ethanol which is a high-flammable liquid that is dangerous to humans so care needs to be taken when preparing, handling and storing these collection items. Photo: Daniel Crichton-Rouse

Zui: Is your collection hazardous?

27 Oct 2022

Do you know about the potential hazardous materials in your collections and how to deal with these? There may be hidden and potential hazards in your collections that can pose a risk to people and the environment. These include asbestos, arsenic, flammable and explosive items, film, ordnance, mould, minerals, blades, medical, dental and pharmaceutical, infective and corrosive materials, and radioactive items. 

It’s essential that staff are aware of the need to identify, assess and control risk from hazards in collection storage areas, or hazardous materials in collections, to prevent injury, illness or harm to collection material. In this introductory zui, our panelists will share their experiences and give tips on keeping your collection and staff safe. 


Tony Clarke, Preventive Conservator will talk about a range of hazards that are likely to occur in smaller social history collections, how to spot them and what to do. 

Robyn Entwistle, Assistant Registrar for MOTAT will discuss approaches to identifying, documenting, and managing hazards in the MOTAT collection.   

Jane Macknight, Manager Collections and Exhibitions for Toitū Ōtago Settlers Museum will talk about a major mould infestation found when she was Director during renovations at the Forrester Art Gallery in North Otago. She will also share information about identifying collection hazards, assessment, remediation, and disposal. 

Morris Reeves, Manager Health and Safety for Te Papa will talk about managing Natural History specimens with possible poisonous pesticide contamination and the risks associated with the Spirit Collection Area specimens preserved in alcohol.  

There will be time for Q+A. Please bring your questions.