Have you tried using magnets yet to construct artifact mounts? Over the past decade or so, conservators have come up with innovative and preservation-appropriate designs using both small rare earth magnets and flexible magnetic strips. Here are a few reasons that magnet mounting systems can be safer for the artifact:
- Traditional textile mounts include stitching and pinning, which can stress the adjacent fibers disproportionately. Magnets act as more of a clamp and magnetic strips distribute the pressure evenly across a border or other strip.
- Magnets can be a safer mounting method for paper with very brittle edges than adhesive corners. This example shows magnet mounts around poster borders, leaving a thumbtack-like appearance without the collateral damage to the artifact.
- Pins can leave permanent holes in some materials—particularly skins. Magnets are less invasive in such cases.
Conservators and exhibit designers across the country have come up with a variety of solutions for incorporating magnets into mounting systems.
- Find appropriate barrier layers to protect the textile or paper artifact from the magnets’ metal. Polyethylene filem (mylar) and Japanese paper are two safe possibilities.
- Magnets can be safely embedded inside archival museum board. In this example,the magnetic mounting system kept 3-dimensional artifacts mounted on panels for a traveling exhibit.
- Magnetic strips can be camouflaged with a digital print (to-scale) of a textile’s pattern and that is adhered to the strip. (See example photo above.)
- Rare earth magnets can be painted with carefully matched paint so that their appearance blends with the artifact. (a barrier layer is still necessary with painted magnets.)
- Use a larger, strong magnet to remove magnets from the artifact in this case. Attempting to pry them away from brittle paper with fingers introduces more risk to the piece.
Small rare earth magnets and magnetic strips are affordable materials for mount construction. 100 thumbtack-size rare earth magnets are available for $6.85 here. This option for magnetic strips is $12 for a ½” width and 7 feet length.
[Thanks to T. Ashley McGrew for contributions to this post.]