Artifact Handling Policy

Careful handling of artifacts is a critical element of a preventative conservation program. The most preventable type of damage comes as a result of improper handling of artifacts. If artifacts are not handled properly, they break and/or deteriorate, and their value as documents of the past diminishes. Furthermore, artifacts are a non-renewable resource; once destroyed, the original artifact is gone forever.

Artifact Handling Training

By properly training every individual who will come in contact with artifacts, preventable damage to the Museum’s Artifact Collection is minimized.

No one may handle artifacts until the Collections Manager and/or Assistant Collections Manager have confirmed the individual has:

  1. read the Artifact Handling Manual,
  2. signed the Artifact Handling Agreement Form, and
  3. passed an intensive, two-hour artifact handling workshop led by the Collections Manager and/or Assistant Collections Manager.


On occasion, an outside person with artifact handling or professional museum experience will need to handle artifacts for a short term project. This is allowed only under the supervision of the Collections Manager, Assistant Collections Manager, Registrar, Assistant Registrar, or approved Museum employee. Prior to handling any artifacts, the outside individual must read the Artifact Handling Manual and sign the Artifact Handling Waiver Form. The Collections Manager or Assistant Collections Manager may waive the handling workshop requirement.


Handling of firearms is restricted. All individuals who will handle firearms must first attend a firearms safety course from the University of Illinois Police Department. Such individuals must retake this course every five years.