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                Ah! My concerns would be about the same as yours: potential for 
pests (new and existing even with past treatment), dust, and additionally 
people. I don't know how much the charcoal would be of interest to pests but 
the unburnt/partially burnt items may. The image shows well burned items but 
there may be some parts that still have enough to be of interest to pests. The 
silk is the same concern as if you had silk items in your collection in my 
opinion, monitor and be careful. This would honestly be my least concern for 
this piece. The dust from the charcoal would worry me. Disaster response 
literature or those that have participated in a response effort for a fire will 
note how charcoal dust and soot gets EVERYWHERE. As it is so fine it can get 
ingrained into just about anything very easily. Granted this will be much more 
controlled than the dust/soot from a fire but I feel it would travel easily. 
That leads to my last point of people. People will touch the charcoal. I want 
to say especially children but as I'm sure everyone has seen adults are just as 
bad. After they touch the charcoal they will do their best effort to touch 
everything within reach, especially if its collection items. This would be my 
biggest concern.

                Would it be possible to have the charcoal and burnt silk in a 
Plexiglas box? Off the top of my head, a base of Plexiglas, the artist or staff 
arrange the charcoal and burnt silk on the base and then a Plexiglas lid is 
placed over top, possibly within a shallow recess so the lid can't easily slide 
off? While this isn't impenetrable it would certainly drastically reduce any 
concerns and would minimally affect the aesthetic of the piece.

                Good luck!

William Shepherd
Collections Officer
Swift Current Museum
44 Robert Street West
Swift Current, Saskatchewan
S9H 4M9
Phone: 306-778-4815
Fax: 306-778-4818

From: [] On 
Behalf Of Wingfield, Erika
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 3:40 PM
To: '' <>
Subject: [pestlist] "Forest Debris" and Possible Pests

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Hello once again!

No beetle questions this time! An artist has proposed an installation that is 
going to include "forest fire debris" (please see attached image). The artist 
has described said "debris" as such:

"...the 'debris' is more or less charcoal and silk, piled in a line about 6" 
high directly beneath the photo. It is the charcoal remains of the forest that 
appears in the photo, so it is essential to the concept of the piece. Some of 
the charcoal retains the shape of pine needles, cones, bark, branches or wood. 
It is fragile and can be crushed by hand. The brown bits you see in the picture 
are charred pieces of silk from the bottom edge of the photo. There are no 
leaves or wood chips.
The charcoal bits have been re-burned and subjected to multiple freeze-thaw 
cycles. The material was screened after cooling down to remove ash and fine 
dust. The reality is that both the charcoal and silk are very fragile and can 
be pulverized in handling as well as shipping which can result in dust."

Obviously there are many concerns about this installation. The artist claims to 
have done freeze-thaw cycles but how much would this actually help in regards 
to keeping pests away. Certainly it could rid the "debris" of any bugs that 
might be in there at present...but what about prevention? We have a prohibited 
items list that we use for flower arrangements and pine cones, bark, branches 
and wood (unless it has been treated) are prohibited. But I am not so sure 
about these items after they have been burned. This work has mainly been in 
galleries in the past...and I think this is the first time it is coming into a 
museum so I don't have any institutions that I can contact to see what they had 
did during install and the duration of the exhibition. I am hoping that we 
could make this work, but no matter how I look at it this install seems like it 
can't happen.

Does anyone have any experience with dealing with piles of charcoal? Are there 
any pests that would be attracted to this material, would they be the same 
types that are attracted to wood and plant matter even though this material has 
been burned down to charcoal? Obviously the dust is also a concern because of 
our HVAC system...but that is a whole separate issue. I am trying to arm myself 
with information so that if/when I have to go to the curator to tell him it is 
a no go I will have documentation and perhaps even examples.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Erika Wingfield
Assistant Registrar
Direct: 602.307.2030

Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004<>

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