Pest infestation and conservation of ethnographic collections with specific reference to skin and wooden materials: a case study of Village Museum, Dar Es Salaam
The purpose of the study was to investigate why and how skin and wooden ethnographic artifacts are infested and what was being done to combat the problem. Hence, the study aimed at identifying insect pests, which damage skin and wooden materials and analyze their sources. It examined how improper storage and lack of conservation facilities engenders insect pest infestation. It also looked at the influence that a collection management policy has on infestation and learned from the grassroots people about their knowledge and skills in the conservation of skin and wooden artifacts versus insect pests infestation. In order to capture the research objectives the study was guided by the following assumptions: the inherent problem of insect pests infestation at the Village Museum was attributed to improper storage room and lack of conservation facilities. Furthermore, it was assumed that the absence of a collection management policy and inability of the museum to utilize the available traditional conservation techniques engendered infestation on skin and wooden artefacts. The findings have revealed that, the museum storage IS very poor and it lacks conservation facilities. The situation has lead to conditions that favour the breeding of insect pests. The museum lacks a collection management policy and the traditional conservation techniques have also not been adequately applied. This means that the newly acquired collections are not treated before being mixed with existing ones. With such evidence we find that the naturalistic explanations, which claim that relative humidity and high temperatures are responsible for the widespread of insect pests at the Village Museum invalid. Instead such an explanation needs to be replaced with a holistic approach which seeks to explain the problem with the museum system and human beings actions which it is a part.