Residues of poisonous compounds may be found in any kind of garment in a museum collection, and care should be taken in exposing oneself, one’s colleagues or the public to them.

  • Poisonous chemicals have been used in both traditional and industrial textile production and finishing
  • Poisonous chemicals have been used in bleaching and cleaning textiles
  • Heavy metals such as arsenic and lead were used as face powder or in textile dyeing or finishing, as well as in paints
  • Poisonous gases and chemicals have been used for disinfection and pest control
  • Costume examples: poisoned gloves, fatal garters


Protection against poisons

  • Don’t ever taste anything in the museum collection, and don’t lick your fingers
  • Wash hands before and after contact with all museum objects and wear gloves when handling questionable objects
  • Wear protective clothing if it is necessary to work with objects that may contain poisons
  • Follow standard health and safety rules
  • When in doubt, get information from the health and safety authorities
  • Document what you find or suspect so others are warned and the information is saved


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