A National Framework for Managing Malignant Plastics in Museum Collections (PolyMuse)

Plastic phone headset with code and line graph


Julianne Bell
Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation

Petronella Nel 
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies


Jean Dinco
School of Culture and Communication

Project description

The ARC Linkage project, PolyMuse, brings together three universities and five collecting institutions with the aim to develop a framework for managing plastic based objects in Australian museum collections. While initially believed to possess long term physical and chemical stability, a number of polymers, particularly historic polymers, have proven to be inherently unstable, with conservators now facing vast amounts of rapidly deteriorating materials.  Collection surveys conducted at five culture heritage partner institutions over the last three years gathered data on plastic collection items, including curatorial information, object descriptions, condition assessments, storage information and spectroscopic analyses to identify the polymer types.

This data has been collated into a relational database using the Online Heritage Resource Manager platform which will serve as both a research tool facilitating statistical and relation mapping analysis, and be published online as a resource for the International conservation community. Our intern, Jean Dinco, developed python code and documentation to standardise file names, create thumbnails, convert file types and names for over 6000 digital objects, such as visual documentation, in multiple formats, that have also been collected, to prepare automated procedures for the files migration and addition to the text based survey and scientific data.

Want to get involved with the Digital Studio internship program? We welcome applications from research students to undertake the internship, and from academics and external organisations interested in hosting an internship and supervising an intern.

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