How to care for metal, glass, and stone
Tiakitanga o te maitai, o te kōata, o te toka

Learn how to preserve metal, glass, ceramic, and stone objects.

On this page:

Caring for metal objects
Caring for glass and ceramic objects
Caring for stone objects

Caring for metal objects

Different metals react to environmental conditions and storage materials in different ways, so it is always useful to know which kind of metal you are dealing with.

Handling

Salts and oils from hands can cause long-term damage to metals, so handle objects wearing nitrile or vinyl gloves, or with clean, bare hands.

Storing

Store metals in a well-ventilated environment with a stable temperature. Light, heat, and moisture can cause metal objects to corrode.

Keep metal objects together, and away from wooden objects or furniture, which can give off acidic vapours.

Ideally, objects should be kept off the floor and stored on metal rather than wooden shelving. Large objects should be placed on top of a metal pallet with a separation layer rather than directly on the floor. You can also use a plastic pallet, but avoid PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

More advice on metal preservation is offered by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Caring for glass and ceramic objects

Handling

Glass and ceramic objects are brittle and require careful handling.

  • Don’t handle or move the object unless you need to, and be careful when you do.
  • Use clean, bare hands or tight-fitting nitrile gloves (cotton gloves can cause slipping) to avoid causing surface discolouration and smudging,
  • Lift things from their strongest point rather than from handles or other protrusions.
  • Don’t ever try to lift a heavy object on your own. Get someone to help you, and use a trolley when necessary.

Storing and moving

When moving or storing a glass or ceramic object, make sure it’s well padded and secured in a tray or container. Keep it in an area where it won’t be knocked over by passers-by.

More advice on glass and ceramic preservation is offered by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Caring for stone objects

Handling

Like glass items, objects made of stone are very brittle and prone to breakage.

  • Be mindful that some stone objects are toxic, so know your objects well.
  • Don’t handle or move the object unless you need to, and be careful when you do.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Lift things from their strongest point rather than from handles or other protrusions.
  • Don’t ever try to lift a heavy object on your own. Get someone to help you and use a trolley when necessary.

Storing and moving

When moving or storing a stone object, make sure it’s well padded and secured in a tray or container. Keep it in an area where it won’t be knocked over by passers-by.