This course—presented October 18-25, 1996, at West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, England—was organized by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in partnership with the Conservation Unit of the Museums and Galleries Commission, England, and represented continuing collaboration between the GCI and the Conservation Unit in offering preventive conservation training activities in the United Kingdom.
The course, first offered by the GCI in 1994, provided museum collections staff and advisors with a review of pest management and control, a field that has been undergoing major changes in recent years. The changes include greater emphasis on preventing infestations—rather than on responding to infestations after they occur, when chemicals extremely toxic to humans and harmful to objects in museum collections are needed. Eradication methods which are effective yet nontoxic include thermal control and the use of inert gases. The GCI has done extensive work in researching the use of inert gases for conservation purposes.
The course's practical exercises included a visit to a local museum, where participants were able to carry out a practice inspection with the objective of developing an integrated pest management plan, and sessions in setting up and carrying out a mock inert-gas treatment of objects.
Twenty-two participants from France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States attended the eight-day course, and the wide representation of countries and climates from both instructors and participants resulted in interesting discussions and exchanges of ideas. A number of participants have already set up inert-gas systems in their own institutions or have organized workshops to disseminate the information contained in the course.