All posts by Zoe Hughes

17th MuseumPests Working Group Meeting 2020 Update

Hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 26-28

 I’m delighted to be back at the MuseumPests Working Group for the third time, it’s wonderful to be welcomed back into the IPM family! As the end of day three rolls around, it’s time to write the blog and reflect on all the work, tours and presentations that’s kept us occupied for the last few days.

On day one we had some amazing tours at The Met. Michael Millican, the newish IPM coordinator and Eric Breitung took us on amazing tours behind the scenes (and in the galleries). These were obviously tours with a difference, showing us problem areas and IPM challenges (which I’m sure we could all relate to). In the brand-new British exhibition Eric showed us all the exciting display cases with removable panels for cleaning, visitors to the exhibition were a little perplexed, as we all got down on the floor to have a look!

Michael then took us on a whirlwind tour of the back of house areas. This was so fascinating, and completely awe inspiring at how well Michael, who has been at The Met less than a year, knows the rabbit warren of a building and how he has grasped the major challenges he faces so quickly.

Day two started with the most amazing breakfast, kindly provided by The Met. After some interesting updates on the Stockholm IPM conference, News from the European and UK groups and an update on the Survey, we quickly got to talking about work. All the groups gathered, and we got to work.

Excitingly for the ID group, Tom Parker donated some discs of images, which they have been working through sorting and deciding which should go on the website. Watch this space for some new images which help everyone ID their pests better in the future.

The prevention and solutions groups have been working on terminology in existing policy documents and writing new protocols. In the Survey group we have been working to analyse the results of the survey, which a whopping 374 of you responded to! (Many thanks on behalf of the survey group for taking the time to fill that in for us.) Armando Mendez and Pascal Querner have been working on translations of the website, Spanish and German respectively. Watch this space for that update.

In the afternoon we had interesting presentations from Eric on O2 Analysers. Licensing and guidelines from Lisa Goldberg, which was a bit perplexing for me as a Brit. Then a great presentation from Tom Parker on Moths and Beetles which provided some light relief.

After a final work session Day two came to an end.

Day three started with an excellent presentation on IPM at The Met from Michael and IPM policies in Hostoric house msueums from Emma Ziraldo. The key message of Emma’s talk was that sometimes you need to be pragmatic and realistic with what you can achieve sometimes. Following this was a lovely presentation to remember Bob Childs who sadly died last year, from Pat Kelley.

On behalf of the whole group I would like to thank Michael and Eric and The Metropolitan Museum of Art for their fantastic hospitality.

*The animal in question was once a bat. Tom estimated that this was around 18 months old and that in another 18 months it would be skeletonised.



2019 IPM Working Group Meeting Summary

Coming to Indianapolis is my second time participating in the IPM-WG, my first was at Winterthur in 2017. I’m very excited to be back!

Day one took us out to Insects Limited hosted by Pat Kelley. We had a very busy day starting with a tour of lab including the insect colony rearing, trap testing areas and pheromone extraction and synthesis. Then followed some really exciting talks, including (but not exclusively) the use of sniffer dogs to locate active infestations of biscuit beetles, the use of pesticide netting and some exciting news on SightTrap development.

We then had a presentation on fumigation, which as a Brit and therefore not at all familiar, scared me slightly! Being a geological collections curator I am excited about the potential of anoxic enclosures as freezing treatments aren’t an option when our materials associated with collections need intervention.

Day two took us out to Newfields, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) which was to be our base for the remainder of the working group. After updates from the UK and European groups and some discussion on the priorities to get on with this year, we got to work.

Groups formed doing a variety of tasks; including updating pest sheets and ensuring that the website works properly and finding gaps in resources. A library group has formed, checking that the website is inclusive for a whole host of cultural institutions. The survey group has worked hard to get the survey on pest trends closer to publication (watch this space!).

In the afternoon we had tours of the facilities at Newfields. Greg Smith showed us the most beautiful lab I have ever seen; the Conservation Science Centre where he does some amazing work using chemistry to learn a whole host of things about the art in the collections.

Then we were shown one of the collections space with a whole range of amazing objects. I love having the opportunity to see collections storage at other institutions, as a Paleontologist I’ve never been into an art museum’s stores before. Sadly (and understandably we weren’t allowed to take photos, but trust me the art and design objects were amazing).

Following the tours we had another work session, continuing what we were doing previously; I’m excited to see the results of the group working on how to create buy in into IPM via prevention and the results of the work of the rodent group.

Day three has us back at Newfields, and back to our smaller working groups. The remaining groups were working on exploring the possibility of translations of the website, initially into Spanish. The solutions group are working on some easy workflow diagrams for treatment decision making which should be super!

Just before lunch we went on a tour of the Lilly house, a beautiful house which is part of the Newfields site. After lunch we had a great talk about remote sensor technology in rodent traps at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York and how social media has been used within this group. We then continued with the working groups before we wrapped up for another year.

Many thanks to Insects Limited and the IMA for hosting a wonderful meeting, and many thanks to all the participants for welcoming me back to the group where we got loads done!

Zoë Hughes

Curator of Fossil Invertebrates (Brachiopods and Cephalopods), Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London.