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Friday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
07. (Collection Care) Cadmium Plating in Scientific and Technological Collections

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Cadmium plating is a common surface treatment that has been used to protect iron alloys in military, automotive, aerospace, and other industrial fields throughout the 20th century. Cadmium is in limited use today due to its toxicity. The surface coating industry and military have made efforts to find suitable, safer alternatives, but none can replace the combination of cadmium’s unique characteristics as a single, cost-effective plating system. Cadmium serves as a sacrificial layer that preferentially corrodes before the substrate. The yellow- and white-colored corrosion products are loose and powdery thereby posing health and safety risks to those who come into contact with them. During a survey of the collection at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM), more than 2100 objects were identified as having active cadmium corrosion and in need of immediate stabilization. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of information on how to identify, characterize, treat, and safely dispose of cadmium corrosion in the Conservation and Collections Management literature. While the dangers and deterioration of cadmium pigments have been explored in analysis of painted surfaces, to date only one conservation-focused article has endeavored to understand why metallic cadmium corrodes in technological collections. The limited, yet continued, use of cadmium in military and aerospace applications will continue to be problematic as NASM and other history and technology museums continue to collect. This poster will present the case study of a treatment methodology carried out on World War II era aircraft equipment. It will also present techniques for characterizing cadmium corrosion and provide practical health and safety guidelines for its treatment and disposal.

avatar for Arianna Carini Johnston

Arianna Carini Johnston

Contractor, National Air and Space Museum
Arianna Carini has a MSc in Conservation Practice from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. She graduated in 2013 and is originally from Bloomington, Indiana.

avatar for Lauren Horelick

Lauren Horelick

Object Conservator, National Air and Space Museum
Lauren Horelick has a BFA in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute, a BA in art conservation and anthropology from the University of Delaware, and an MA in archaeological and ethnographic conservation from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)/Getty Conservation... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom (Foyer outside Ballrooms - Poster Session) Marriott Marquis Houston