Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Noelle Wiedemer

First Reader

Noelle Wiedemer

Second Reader

Dr. Cynthia Conides


The purpose of this thesis is to discuss museum policies regarding toxic materials used in the creation of an object or added to it as a preservation or pesticide technique. After surveying different museums, it has been found that many museums are unaware of what parts of their collections contain toxic materials. Because of this unfamiliarity with the danger these materials might pose, many museums to not have policies in place regarding them. Toxins in collection items may pose a threat to museum staff who are working with them on a day to day basis. Toxic materials are prevalent in any number of collections: this thesis focuses on three areas where toxic materials play a major part in the creation or their prolonging their life in museums. Lack of documentation of toxic materials in museum collection records can lead to mishandling of objects containing toxic materials and the potential for contamination by museum staff. This thesis argues that museums need to create safety plans that identify the toxic materials found in their collections, and develop training protocols to educate and protect staff members handling these objects, including providing protective equipment that will allow staff members to handle toxins without fear of contamination.