Antoine Pevsner’s Portrait of Marcel Duchamp as it appeared, left, shortly after its creation in 1926, and in 2009, right.

Though “plastic” has now largely overcome its The Graduate-era connotation of “necessarily cheap, fake, and ephemeral,” it remains the case that plastic objects—especially those manufactured early in the history of plastics technology—present unusual challenges for long-term conservation. As a dabbling ray gun collector, I’ve poked around in this area a bit, trying to figure out the best way to display my collection under conditions designed to control degradation. Not wanting to spend a bunch of money on a specialist text written and priced for professional conservators, however, I have found that this pamphlet from the National Park Service provides a great overview of the subject, but with plenty of specific detail to satisfy my needs as a hobbyist.

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Anonymous

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