Department Chair

Patrick Ravines


Liatte Dotan

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Art Conservation, M.A., C.A.S.


Art Conservation Department


Emily Hamilton


Theresa J. Smith

Department Home page

First Reader

Fran Ritchie

Second Reader

Dr. Rebecca Ploeger

Third Reader

Dr. Glennis Rayermann

Fourth Reader

Jeff Hammer

Fifth Reader

Dr. Nancy Odegaard


Animal hides and skins present in taxidermy and other organic artifacts have long been known to have potentially poisonous pasts due to the presence of residual pesticides that were applied by creators, collectors, and museums. While chemicals such as arsenic and mercury compounds were commonly used to combat agents of deterioration, these hazardous materials pose a serious health threat to those caring for collections as well as the environment at large. Whether by natural disaster, institutional necessity, legal repatriation, or ethical obligation, conservators and collection managers must be equipped with standard practices to provide adequate care even for these seemingly innocent but dangerous artifacts. An example of the need for a written protocol for pesticide-treated objects arrived at the Garman Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State in 2018. A taxidermy bird life group enclosed in a glass bell jar was brought in for treatment by a private owner. Although the mounts were in relatively good condition, the unstable support branch warranted a treatment campaign, despite its poisonous potential. Without protocols for dealing with these materials, the feasibility of treating this object was brought into question - what procedures should be enacted before the protective bell jar was removed, and how should treatment proceed if the specimens did test positive for residual pesticides? An integrated approach for detecting and treating objects that fall under the title “hazardous” had not yet been employed at Buffalo State. As such, this study endeavored to examine existing departmental practices such as object intake, pre-treatment and treatment practices, storage and handling procedures, and related curricular content in an effort to assess those aspects that may benefit from supplemental hazardous material-related safety procedures. This study’s focused assessment summarized the routine departmental operations and proposed procedures that would benefit student’s educational experience, as well as contribute to an institution-wide health and safety standards. To create the protocol, resources currently circulating in our field detailing detection, mitigation and treatment steps for pesticide-affected objects were compiled, and existing procedures from institutions were surveyed and gathered. The resulting best practices for handling and treating pesticide-contaminated objects were then implemented during treatment of the bird life group. Besides its application in the Garman Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State, this study aims to provide a practical tool and informational guide that may be used and expanded by the wider Art Conservation and Collection Care Communities. 3