Preventive | Active | Aftercare

We offer a wide range of services and products to prevent or minimise the potential risks inherent in the management of a collection, such as security systems, preventive conservation that ensures objects’ safety by assisting or tweaking future storage measures, emergency services (offered at different levels), CHV-kits, IPM, drawing up collection plans and risk analyses. We also conduct research to optimise museum depots' interior, size, storage furniture, and pest control. 

Results for your organisation:

  • Detecting and eliminating the damage factor

  • Establishing clear guidelines to limit future risks as much as possible

  • A structured approach and ethic, at a European level

  • Treatment of objects after the damage has occurred

Due to the unique character of each object or collection, we always provide a personal approach. If you are curious about what we can do for you or want more information about one of our services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Creating an optimal indoor climate involves not only controlling relative humidity and temperature but also good air quality. Increased concentrations of harmful substances (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen or fungi) can arise in indoor spaces that are bad for people and the collection. With the Air Check, we can measure the air quality of a room. Different samples are taken depending on the type of research requested/required. These samples are analysed, after which a report is drawn up based on determined legal standards.

We offer different types of measurements:

  • Indoor climate research

  • A combination of factors are measured and analysed, such as:

    • The relative humidity and temperature are measured with a data logger.

    • In addition, the CO2 content is measured with an air sampler.

    • In this way, we can deliver integral advice about the air quality in, for example, a depot or exhibition space.

Research chemical air quality

In this research, the quality of the air is measured chemically and physically. It is possible to measure different types of fabrics separately. We use, for example, air measurements with carbon pipes or filters. The filters are then applied and analysed under a microscope.

  • Solvents (screening for a 265 species)

  • PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

  • Fibre typing and/or counting

  • Dust characterisation (respirable, delicate and/or total dust)

  • Components for occupational hygiene research

  • Specific components or gases

  • Amines, nitrosamines, aldehydes, total aldehydes

  • CO content

  • CO² content

Microbiological air research

Air and contact samples are taken in combination with a visual inspection. The concentration of different types of microorganisms can be analysed from the samples. A distinction is made between the types of microorganisms.

Asbestos has been used in a variety of applications in the past. It was an inexpensive and multi-purpose material, and it now pops up in unexpected places. Asbestos is frequently found in museum objects. Examples include industrial objects, film projectors, tile pictures and even paintings. Asbestos fibres are very harmful to one’s health when inhaled. It is therefore essential to know whether the objects in your collection contain asbestos, and where the outbreak is located. Art Salvage offers various options for detecting, analysing and possibly treating asbestos.


Art Salvage has often had to deal with asbestos in heritage over the years. Our trained employees (Helix Academy 'Asbestos Recognition') can make an inventory of all objects containing asbestos-suspicious material. A plan is then drawn up for packaging and storing the objects. To know for sure whether and how much asbestos an object contains, samples must be taken.


To definitively rule out whether the material is suspected of containing asbestos, samples must be taken and analysed in the lab. Samples are taken with the use of carbon tape (adhesive samples) or tweezers/scalpel (material samples). The sample is then taken to the lab in double packaging (grip bag + closable bottle). Various safety measures are taken during the sampling procedure: protective mouth masks and clothing, point extraction and an airtight container for the object. 

  • Material samples: semi-quantitative estimation of the mass percentage in accordance with NEN5869. If < 0.1% is reported, then no asbestos is detectable in the sample.
  • It is not possible to indicate a quantification for adhesive samples (K). If such samples contain asbestos fibres, this is reported with (A); if no asbestos fibres are found, this is reported with (NA).

In addition, it is possible to perform a measurement and determine how many fibres are present in the air. This can be useful, for example, in depots where objects containing asbestos have been found. In this measurement, the air is drawn in and filtered through a gold filter. This filter takes into consideration the type of asbestos, number of fibres, and fibre concentration in the air and a measurement is made by SEM analysis. Based on the results, we can determine whether this exceeds the legally defined standard.


The presence of asbestos in heritage raises complex ethical issues. It is harmful to health; therefore, you can opt to remove it from the object, however, this compromises the authenticity and physical integrity of the object. We have been researching the consolidation of asbestos for a few years now. From our findings, we believe that objects can be preserved without affecting their materiality. We use various consolidants, such as paraloid B72 and methylcellulose, to safely move objects and possibly exhibit them (in an airtight display case is recommended here).

Method for determining the type of asbestos:

  • Using microscopic examination
  • Based on this, the treatment is determined
  • Execution of consolidation under asbestos conditions (extraction, protection, etc.)
  • Test with ambient adhesive samples and air samples for control

Integrated Pest Management or IPM is a method to prevent and control pests in heritage institutions. Pests can cause a lot of damage to your collection. This can be divided into direct damage to the material (e.g. holes in frames due to woodworm) or indirect damage (e.g. from droppings). The pests can also affect the building or pose a danger to visitors. It is therefore essential to take defensive measures to prevent pests.

Art Salvage can draw up a plan for your institution in which 5 steps occur: detect, block, limit, combat, prevent. In addition to giving advice, we can also carry out the IPM for your collection. The emphasis is on preventive measures, but we use environmentally and animal-friendly pesticides if control is necessary.

  • Detect: identifying which pests are present, and how many, by placing traps.

  • Blocking: optimising the building and spaces, also think of quarantine spaces for new collections.

  • To limit

  • Control: measures to remove the pests such as placing traps in spaces, as well as the use of anoxia and freezing treatment of the objects.

  • Prevention: maintaining a stable climate, keeping rooms and collections clean.

Anoxia treatment with oxygen absorbers
This is a non-toxic treatment of collection items against insects, whereby the oxygen content in the air is reduced, and temperature and RH hardly change. The treatment lasts several weeks, as insects can survive for a long time without oxygen.

You don't see them until it's too late: fungi and all associated problems. Mold spores are always present in the air but wait for the conditions to be suitable for them to grow and affect your collection. A suitable climate begins with an organic nutrient medium. This can consist of the type of material used to create the art object, but contamination also provides fungi with sufficient nutrition. The climate must then meet several requirements; this differs between fungus species but, roughly speaking, a relative humidity of above 65% is essential. In combination with warm temperatures, fungi can grow explosively in a short time and take over a space. It is crucial that preventive measures are taken to ensure that the risk of mold is minimised. If mold has been identified in the collection, Art Salvage can help you determine the activity and extent of the mold using an air and contact test or ARA kit.

ARA kit

The National Archives developed the ARA kit to determine whether a fungus is active. A surface sample is taken with a cotton swab, then placed in a tube with a nutrient medium. The tube is incubated for 10 days in an incubator at a temperature of 25-30°C. If no fungus is visible after these 10 days, it can be assumed that it is not active.

You can buy the kits from us, take the samples and let us hatch them. We also sometimes use the kits for research into the activity of fungi in a particular collection.

Microbiological air and contact research

To determine whether a room or collection contains too many fungal spores, it is necessary to have an air and contact test performed. 100 litres of air per minute are always sucked into a collector with a petri dish during the air examination. The petri dish is then placed in the incubator for a certain period to allow the biological particles to incubate. After hatching, samples are taken from each fungal species on the culture medium. The samples are analysed microscopically for species and bacterial count. The bacterial count determines how many colonies are present per 100 litres of air so that it can be determined whether the determined values ​​are being exceeded.

Air samples are taken in combination with contact samples. With a contact sample, a surface sample is taken with a cotton swab and rubbed over the culture medium of a RODAC plate. The biological particles are then incubated in the incubator. Based on this, it is determined which fungi are present in the sample, and their growth rate.

A report is drawn up based on the air and contact measurements. The report determines whether the measurements exceed the safe values ​​and whether measures need to be taken.


The luminometer is an instrument that can be used to measure contamination on a surface. A special swab is used to rub a surface to take a sample. The swab is then placed in the meter, after which a reservoir in the swab with special liquid is squeezed open. The liquid reacts to the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a substance found in all living cells. The amount of ATP present is then measured with light. The more ATP, the higher the contamination by living (micro-)organisms (including fungi).

Because each material itself contains more or less organisms, it is essential to perform multiple measurements. A luminometer is, therefore, a helpful tool for research into fungi. Art Salvage uses the luminometer when cleaning objects with mold. The measurement is performed before and after cleaning. With sufficient reduction of the ATP concentration, it can be established that the cleaning has been successful.


  • Number of molds and yeasts

  • Number of bacteria

  • Aerobic plate count (only for air measurements)

  • Determination by species

  • Luminometer

When a fire has occurred in the vicinity of an object or collection, the artwork is often affected by soot. Soot consists of incomplete combustion of carbonaceous substances. The composition of the soot depends on the burnt materials. Soot is harmful to many objects because it enters into chemical reactions with the material. It can also penetrate further and further into the material when touched. In addition, the carbon particles are tiny, making them harmful to one’s health. It is therefore essential to remove the soot as quickly as possible.

Art Salvage can investigate how much the soot has affected the objects in the building or exhibition space. Sometimes soot is not visible to the naked eye, but there can be soot particles present on the object. To determine this, adhesive samples are taken and analysed under a microscope. This can be performed both on location and in our lab. Based on the results, it can be determined which objects need to be cleaned.

Mercury (Hg) is a chemical element that can be defined as a transition metal. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Until the end of the 20th century, mercury was widely used in electronics and connections and, of course, in thermometers. This means that there may be objects made of mercury in your collection. When mercury is liquid, it gives off vapours that are very harmful to one’s health. It is therefore essential to quickly detect such objects and shield them from visitors and employees.

To find out to what extent an object releases vapours, the mercury concentration in the air can be measured. The object is placed in an airtight chamber where an air pump is placed. The filters are then analysed, after which a conclusion can be reached.

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