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  • 1.  Firearms Care

    Posted 05-12-2022 11:00 AM

    The museum I work at has a fair amount of firearms in the collection. Recently, a volunteer stopped in and told me that he will come out to oil the guns and handle them, which he said he has done in the past. Since I do not know how to care for firearms within a museum collection, I was wondering if anyone knows any good resources that would provide some guidance. I'm trying to get knowledge of that for now and in the future, but am also trying to stop the cycle of volunteers from doing whatever they please in the collection. Any resources for care would be great so that I have some policies and procedures to back me up would be very helpful. Thank you!

    Kaitlynn Anderson
    Interning Curator
    Cass County Historical Society-Bonanzaville
    West Fargo ND

  • 2.  RE: Firearms Care

    Posted 05-13-2022 07:42 AM
    Great Question . . .
    We had that same discussion not that long ago and didn't get very far with our small collection.
    So I'm eager to hear from others in the museum world
    I've already had long chats with my Historical Reenactors friends on this.

    In the mean time, here is what I know based notes in the file and those conversations
    Firearms require routine maintenance for preservation and safety.
    The metals are prone to corrosion especially when not used regularly and the oil retards it.
    Also any firearm which uses black powder MUST be cleaned and verified for safety reasons - its volatile!
    Same holds true for powder horn - you really do need to get rid of as much of the powder as possible.
    Cleaning the horn is another issue that I clean to conservators and those in the know.

    Not sure if there are any conservators out there who actually do this work . . .
    We've called on the local police to assist with the black powder in the past.

    Your volunteer might be qualified to do the work - ask for a resume / past experience.
    Also, someone has to document everything noting what was done to the firearm and any issues like corrosion.
    I know our firearms were cleaned and oil back in the day . . . but a 3 word note just isn't enough.

    Hope this help.  As I said, hoping to hear more on the topic.

    Chrisso Boulis
    Registrar Records
    Penn Museum
    T: 215-898-4088

  • 3.  RE: Firearms Care

    Posted 05-13-2022 11:18 AM
    Dear Kaitlynn,
    Thank you for your post. Awaaay back when, earlier in my career, I worked as a arms and armor conservator. I did major work for the Virginia Historical Society, the Fredericksburg Museum, the National Park Service and other museums and agencies with large firearms and weapons collections. I will have to look to see what published resources are available today but...for starters, using oil and other petroleum based products on firearms which, typically, contain a variety of metals, woods and other materials is a major mistake and could cause a great deal of damage. I'd be happy to arrange a telephone or Zoom call to discuss at your convenience. Get in touch.

    Courtney B. Wilson
    Museum Consultant and Retired Executive Director
    Courtney B. Wilson & Associates, LLC
    Saint Augustine, FL 32080

  • 4.  RE: Firearms Care

    Posted 05-13-2022 11:30 AM
    There are 2 go-to general publications for museum firearm care.

    The care and preservation of firearms / by Philip R. White. I have trouble recently with their Web site with Chrome and PDF links, so probably use another browser.

    Management of Firearms Collections: Identification and classification, AASLH Technical Leaflet 136, 1981, by Richard Rattenbury
    I can't find a specific link so you probably have to look in libraries:

    Stay safe...

    Jean-Luc Vincent

    Administrateur du SIA
    Direction des collections, de la conservation et de la restauration
    Direction générale des affaires autochtones et du patrimoine culturel
    Parcs Canada, Gouvernement du Canada
    2630, chemin Sheffield, Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 3V7
    Messages: / Cell. non fiable 613-720-4418 / Fax 613-990-6627

    Je travail dans le territoire non cédé et non rendu du peuple Anishinaabe ou Algonquin.

    AIS Administrator
    Collections, Curatorial and Conservation Branch
    Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate
    Parks Canada, Government of Canada
    2630 Sheffield Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 3V7
    Messages: / Cell. unreliable 613-720-4418 / Fax 613-990-6627

    I work in the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe or Algonquin people.

    450 000 km2 de souvenirs
     / 450 000 km2 of memories

  • 5.  RE: Firearms Care

    Posted 05-13-2022 11:55 AM

    Thanks.  Was able to get the Care and Preservation – consisted with what I had been told.

    Couldn't find the second.


    Chrisso Boulis

    Registrar Records

    Penn Museum