Heritage Conservation Centre

Fungal Growth and Corrosion

Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can be highly detrimental to organic materials as they promote mould growth on artefacts such as prints and textiles.

Painted surfaces, glues and varnishes can also become soft and sticky in high temperature and humidity. 

High humidity can also accelerate corrosion and tarnishing of metal surfaces, particularly in association with pollutants in the air.

You should:

  • Ventilate storage or display areas to reduce the potential for fungal growth.
  • Enclose metal artefacts in air-tight containers containing desiccated (blue) silica gel.
  • Use desiccated silica gel to deal with persistent mould growth on leather and other organic materials.
  • Avoid putting artefacts in environments with extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations such as rooms with air-conditioning that are switched on only intermittently.
  • Allow artefacts to adjust to new environmental conditions after being moved. This can be achieved by surrounding the artefacts with absorbent packaging materials that can buffer the environmental changes.