The term 'mould' is a general term describing the fungi which often appear on items as a result of excessive moisture or dampness. There are thousands of species of fungi. Mould spores are in the environment all the time. When an object and environment provides suitable conditions, mould spores will settle on a surface and grow.
'Mould' is the word commonly used to describe the visible growth of fungi, which can develop on material such as paper, textiles, paint, wood and leather. Signs of mould can include a furry or downy growth on the object, musty smells and discolouration of the object. Mould can cause irreversible physical and chemical damage to objects and collections, including losses and severe and irreversible staining. Some forms of mould can also cause issues for people, and so appropriate precautions are needed in handling mould-affected items.
The effects of mould damage on an object are varied and can be permanent, depending on the type of mould. The damage can include staining and the potential for the object to become weakened as a result of the mould itself. In addition, items that have been affected by mould in the past are more susceptible to future mould contamination.
What can we do?
The appearance of mould on your item/s can be potentially hazardous to both the items and to yourself, depending on the type of mould and the severity of the infestation. For these reasons, we recommend that you have your mould-affected item/s assessesed and treated by a conservator. It is best to treat the infestation at the first indication of mould, signs of which may include: musty smells, stains, discolouration and/or a furry or downy growth on the surface of the object.
The treatment we undertake on your item will depend on a variety of factors including: the severity of the infestation, the status of the mould (i.e. whether it is active or dormant), the type of object and the material from which it is made. In addition to treating your mould-affected item, we can also provide advice to reduce the risk of an infestation reoccuring.
Although the treatment we carry out for each mould-affected item is devised specifically for that item, typical treatments include:
- Stabilisation - to stop the mould growth
- Cleaning - to remove mould from the object
- Repair of damage - to fix structural or reduce chemical issues (e.g. staining)
If your item or collection has been affected by mould, please contact us to discuss how we can help.
Mould growth on paper item
Mould on backing board of artwork