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Goggles! « The Polar Museum: news blog

The Polar Museum: news blog


Putting the goggles in their new home

Before any objects could be re housed in the new museum store, the drawers and shelves had to be lined. The racking units are constructed from powder-coated metal so a 'cushion' was inserted to hold the objects securely in place to prevent damage. Plastazote was used as it is an inert conservation grade foam to be found in many museum stores.

The choice of materials is very important as some can have a detrimental effect on objects. For example the chemicals used in fire retardant MDF (medium density fiberboard) can off gas and can cause metals such as lead to corrode rapidly. To ensure this doesn't happen conservation departments will carry out an Oddy Test on all new materials to be used whether it is for storage or display. A sample of the new material is placed in a container with metal tokens (usually silver, iron, lead and copper) and a small amount of water, then it is sealed and put in a hot oven at 60oc for a month. The metal tokens are then examined to see if any tarnishing has taken place and, if so, how severely.

The first objects to go into the store were the goggles. We have over seventy pairs in the collection ranging from 1780's to 1990's so it is possible to see a fascinating chronological development in snow goggle technology. My favourite is a pair of goggles that remind me of a banana (see image below). The narrow slit running across the whole of the goggles is perhaps one of the simpler designs, based on an Inuit pattern, but fulfils the criterion of providing protection against snow blindness. This is a problem even today in polar regions, as the u.v. rays in sunlight reflect off the snow and ice causing damage to eyes and temporary blindness.

In the new museum display it will be possible to see goggles from Greenland, the Franklin Expedition (1845-48), the British Arctic Expedition (1875-76) and the Discovery Expedition (1901-04) amongst others.

Eye protector
Eye protector designed by Commander E.A. Inglefield R.N., HMS Phoenix, 1854.

Images by Fiona Cahill

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