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State Historical Society of Iowa


General Guidelines

  • Keep material out of direct sunlight and limit exposure to all kinds of light.
  • Storage should be a consistently cool, dry space free of pests. Avoid areas near water or areas that experience extreme temperature or relative humidity changes.
  • Use storage materials specific to the item that are of archival quality.
  • Make sure your hands are clean before touching objects or wear gloves.


  • Clean the material prior to storing it. Do this by surface vacuuming or dry cleaning. Vacuum on a low setting and be careful of delicate areas. Be aware, dry cleaning solvent dries out natural fibers and can cause damage.
  • Wrap and pad out garments with acid-free tissue and place in a preservation storage box. Use a large box so the garment can lay flat.
  • Hang garments if space is limited. Hang on a padded hanger and cover in a zippered or sewn cotton or linen bag. Avoid plastic.
  • Roll flat textiles, such as quilts or flags, in tissue paper or place them in a box with tissue to support any folds.
  • Keep the packed boxes in a cool, dry place with good ventilation and circulation.
  • Beware of pests that might cause damage to textiles such as moths and beetles.
  • Resist using or wearing textile heirlooms. Use them for display only.
  • Limit exposure to light as textiles are sensitive and will fade.


  • Wash silverware by hand using a soft sponge and mild detergent. Do not use a dishwasher.
  • Dry silverware immediately after washing. Water spots can lead to tarnish.
  • Place silverware in anti-tarnish bags or lined silverware box.
  • When tarnish first forms on silver, it may be yellow or gold colored. At this point it is easily removed without polish by wiping it with a clean, soft cloth.
  • When necessary, gently polish using a mild silver polish such as 3M Tarnish Shield™, Goddard products or Hagarty products. Rinse away any remaining polish with a mild soap and warm water.


  • Never hang artwork above a radiator, air or heating vent, or fireplace. Soot and dust will be deposited on the painting surface.
  • Keep artwork away from direct sunlight and avoid using frame-mounted spotlights.
  • Never use glass or acrylic to cover paintings unless there are special security concerns. Acrylic creates static that can pull the paint from the surface. Glass can easily break, damaging the work.
  • Store paintings standing up rather than lying flat.
  • Carry paintings with both hands gripping the sides. Do not hold it by the top of its frame
  • Surface dust can be gently removed using a very soft brush or compressed air.
  • Surface grime should only be cleaned by a trained professional.

Coins and Stamps

  • Wear gloves when handling coins.
  • Do not use abrasive or chemical cleaners on coins.
  • Keep stamps out of light.
  • Tweezers with large rounded tips and a Teflon® coating are useful for handling stamps.
  • Protect coins and stamps by using specially designed archival enclosures.