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Specialised conservation tools

By: Mr Sheldon Teare, Category: At The Museum, Date: 07 Dec 2011

The materials conservation unit have a number of unique tools at their finger tips...

Sheldon restoring feathers

Kate Jones © Australian Museum

The AM’s portable XRF can detect and analyze trace elementals within an object. The Conservation department utilizes this specialized equipment for materials identification, which can be especially helpful to identify poisons within the collections.

In previous times arsenic was used extensively in the preparation of taxidermy mounts, as it helps preserve the specimen against pest damage. Arsenic is an accumulative poison that, with repeated exposure (ingestion) can seriously harm an individual. While the risk of arsenic contamination is easily avoided by wearing nitrile gloves and washing your hands, the XRF allows staff to know which specimens are affected.

The XRF uses extremely low powered x-rays, making it very safe to use.

See the end result on display now at the Australian Museum, in the brand new showcases!