An allergen is any substance, most often eaten or inhaled, that is recognized by one’s immune system and causes an allergic reaction. Dust, pollen and pet dander are all common allergens (below), but it is possible to be allergic to anything. These materials in museums objects may be considered historical evidence, and it is important to consider their importance before removing them.

  • residue of perfume from personal garments
  • residue of dyes and industrial or hand finishing treatments
  • individual allergies to metals, soaps, synthetic materials
  • dust
  • pollen
  • mold, fungus
  • dust mites
  • dog/cat hair


Protecting oneself against allergens

  • Learn if you yourself have any specific allergies you need to protect yourself against
  • Assume that historic objects may contain or be contaminated with allergens - which may have historical significance - and use appropriate safety procedures
  • Document any concerns and have analyses made of suspected objects
  • Isolate suspected problem objects so they don’t contaminate other museum objects, and label accordingly


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