Pokémon have taken over the museum!

By Laura G., MMC Intern

Pests are a common problem in museums and they can cause a lot of damage to the museum buildings and the collection. If Pokémon were real life pests, these are the damages they could inflict on the museum!

Insects can cause the most damage as they are small but have big appetites! Weedles, Caterpies, and Butterfrees can eat through materials such as textiles. This would have a devastating effect on any quilts, clothing, or linens.  When these pests are present there will be tiny holes in the affected textiles. Insects like Beedrills can also cause damage to the wood within a building by barreling through it. This type of destruction can make the structure of the building weaker. Venonats and Venomoths can cause devastation to textiles as well because they will chew through them. Kakuna and Metapod can also leave casings within a collection, while these are not necessarily damaging, they are a sign of insects which is never good. Insects are small and they can go unnoticed in a collection until one day a quilt is unrolled and there are holes, casings, or other damage. By then it could be too late.

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Where’s the CCI Note for Venonats in historic houses?

Rattata and mouse-like Pokémon, like Pikachu, have very good senses of smell and taste. They also have ways of easily gaining entry to the building if they were to smell something that they wanted! They chew through organic material like leather and glues. Many objects in the collection are made from organic materials (especially hair wreaths) so it is important to prevent Pokémon like these from getting into the building.

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Zubats can live in collection areas because they are dark during the day when bats are asleep. Collection areas are usually kept very cool to protect the objects. This sort of environment would be perfect for a Zubat to nest. The Zubat’s droppings could cause damage to a object if it were to land on one, because Zubats fly around their droppings can affect more objects.

Pokémon can cause damage and destruction to a museum collection so it’s important to keep them in their pokeballs! It is always best to prevent an infestation before it happens, so you gotta catch ‘em all!

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If this Weedle made it inside Henry House, it could be disastrous.

Museums are Cool! (Pun Intended)

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

I am rather lucky to work where I do, for a plethora of reasons.  I’m a history junkie and museum nerd, so working in my field in a subject I love is a blessing.  I work right on the shores of Lake Ontario; on summer mornings, before I begin my day, I’ll often sit and just watch the lake, taking in the silence before the excitement of the day.  I love my community and I love meeting new people, and as Community Engagement co-ordinator, I get to talk about how amazing Oshawa is.  And on the hot, humid, stinking summer days, I get the joys of working in an air conditioned environment!

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Visitors are often surprised to walk through the doors of Guy House and discover just how cool it is in here.  All three museum buildings have climate control methods, and while I’d like to say that it is purely for the comfort of staff and guests, that just simply is not the case.  In our collections, housed between our three buildings, we have thousands of artifacts, including clothing, textiles, archaeological collections, cameras, furniture, and much more.  And then, of course, there is the archival collection in Guy House, including around 10,000 photographs of Oshawa, and irreplaceable text documents.  Fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity (RH) are not ideal for collections, so air conditioners are used in the summer for climate control.

According to the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), who are essentially the go-to people for Museum conservation standards, fluctuations in temperature and RH are the enemies to museum collections.  It is important to note that temperature and RH are directly related – if a volume of warm air is cooled, then its RH will go up; in turn, if a volume of cool air is warmed, the RH will go down.  Science.

Circled in red is the temperature and RH meter in the Robinson House attic storage area
Circled in red is the temperature and RH meter in the Robinson House attic storage area

What could happen if there is incorrect temperature or humidity?  CCI outlines three broad categories: biological damage (mould growth); chemical damage (including hydrolysis and oxidation); and, mechanical damage (objects naturally expand or contract depending on warm or cool temperatures – this could spell disaster for large objects with many components, like CCI’s example of a chest of drawers or paintings).  By regulating the museum environment and closely monitoring the temperature and relative humidity in our buildings, we are doing our best to deter potential damage to our precious artifacts.

Having A/C is also a nice draw for tours: take a break from the heat and discover more about Oshawa’s past.  The Oshawa Museum: We’re a cool place to visit! (See what I did there?)