After being closed for months, museums are facing a new threat from pests. The scale of the problem is such that one curator has launched a new card game to help colleagues identify pests that can endanger art collections.
Since last spring, insects and rodents have been taking up residence in museums around the world. Most pests are attracted to dark, quiet places, making the empty galleries of these cultural venues an ideal environment for such unwanted visitors.
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles took advantage of its months of closure to carry out an intensive moth control programme. It reportedly took more than 6, 000 hours to clean the institution's 55 galleries from top to bottom, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And it certainly isn't alone. Britain's National Trust reports that insect numbers increased by 11% overall in 2020 at its heritage properties, compared to the previous year. That's why Helena Jaeschke, a conservation development officer with the South West Museum Development Programme, has decided to tackle the problem in an original way. She recently created a card game called Save The Museum! with the help of her daughter, who works as a board game designer.
A fun way to help fight pests
Inspired by the card game Top Trumps, Save The Museum! consists of cards each featuring the silhouette of an insect to identify. The cards also contain additional information about the pests, such as their size, preferred environment and the damage they can cause in a museum.
"You can flick through the cards to learn details about pests and possible treatments whilst having a coffee break, or else challenge each other with a game," Helena Jaeschke told The Art Newspaper.
Save The Museum! card packs were distributed to the 140 museums and institutions participating in the South West Museum Development Programme's "Pest Partners" project. This initiative assists cultural venues with the recent increase in pest numbers, exacerbated by museum closures and staffing cuts caused by the pandemic.
While Save The Museum! is primarily aimed at curators, Helena Jaeschke hopes that other employees will take an interest in the game to help museums get rid of these unwelcome visitors. - AFP