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Woodlice - Amanda Jane Fletcher 2007 CC BY-SA 2.0
28.07.2020

Icon welcomes new Pest Partners project

Helena Jaeschke ACR, Conservation Development Officer, and Victoria Harding, Programme Manager, successfully applied for a grant from Historic England’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to launch the Pest Partners project for museums, historic buildings, galleries and privately owned heritage collections in south west England.

The Pest Partners project will provide support and equipment to help museums and heritage organisations to care for their collections throughout 2020. It has has been developed by South West Museum Development, which provides trusted, local and relevant support for museums and heritage organisations.

pest_damage_on_a_book_lieven_cc_by-sa_4.0.jpgThe closure imposed by Covid-19 has coincided with the period when pests are most active. Pests such as clothes moths and carpet beetles can severely damage important historic collections if they’re left unchecked. A wide range of organic materials are at risk - everything from the wool, fur and feather of costumes, carpets and natural history specimens to paper, books, wallpaper and the wood used in furniture, musical instruments and even the floors and walls of the buildings themselves. If it’s organic it’s almost always edible and something will eat it – even if it is just the starch paste used to stiffen paper or the glue on stamps.

This project will help organisations trap, track and identify pest activity and manage infestations. The South West Museum Development team will give guidance on planning for future prevention and better pest management and also provide free monitoring, identification and cleaning equipment.

The project has space for 200 organisations to join, and support is available to organisations whether they are planning to open this year or not. Participants will receive a free Pest Monitoring and Identification Kit, lots of support, and guidance in identifying and dealing with the risk from pests. In return, they must commit to taking on the task of monitoring for pests and sharing their data. The South West Museum Development team will use the data to track the spread of pests and spot the emergence of any significant new pest species.

Happily, the funding from Historic England will enable the team to include collections that are in private ownership as well as those cared for in publicly funded institutions. This support is vital in order to ensure that collections are properly cared for without adding to the financial burden that many have faced through the loss of visitor income in recent months.

Conservation Development Officer, Helena Jaeschke ACR said:

Having seen the terrible damage that pests can do, we have been greatly concerned about their unchecked spread in collections that had to be locked down this spring. We are so encouraged by this funding from Historic England which will enable us to help protect a much wider range of historic collections across the South West. We look forward to hearing from anyone who cares for a collection of heritage objects in the South West that is normally open to the public, from community archives to abbeys, historic houses to watermills.

Icon is delighted to support the Pest Partners project, which recently secured an emergency grant of £24,170 from Historic England.

Applications are open to organisations in south west England with a heritage collection that is normally open to the public. For full information and to apply, visit the South West Museum Development website or contact Helena Jaeschke.

Image credits: "Woodlice" by Amanda Jane Fletcher 2007 CC BY-SA 2.0 and "Pest damage on a book" by Lieven CC BY-SA 4.0

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