Displaying a Collection

Unseen hazards.
Before discussing how to display headgear with preservation in mind, a few words are warranted about display materials. Common items that we often use for storage of household goods may be harmful to textiles and leather. Materials such as paper, cardboard, wood, foam, or styrofoam must not be allowed to come into direct contact with leather or textiles. These materials give off acids which eventually will deteriorate fabric or stain leather.

Styrofoam display heads are commonly used for displaying headgear in both public and private collections. What we know as styrofoam, is a Dow Chemical Co. trademarked form of foamed polystyrene insulation introduced in 1954. Although very convenient for displaying headgear, styrofoam has acidic qualities that will eventually damage or chemically stain leather or fabric that comes in contact with it. Wood display heads and forms have similar damaging effects.

Regardless of what method you decide upon for displaying your artifacts, ensure that a neutral, acid-free barrier is placed between any potentially harmful material. Acid-free tissue and acid free mat board are available from most framing stores. An unbleached cotton cloth called "muslin" is ideal for forming a barrier between display materials and artifacts and can be purchased from almost any fabric store.