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Caring for your sporting memorabilia

The National Museum’s conservation team spent hundreds of hours preparing the trophies on show in League of Legends. Each piece was cleaned and preserved. The nuances of different materials and makers, and the character of each trophy’s history, were retained.

Here, the team shares tips on caring for your memorabilia. Consult a qualified conservator if you need further treatment or advice.

A woman wearing a white dust jacket works on a football trophy.
Conserving the Australie-France Trophy

Trophies and medallions

  • Don’t display your trophies on the mantelpiece over a hot fireplace.
  • Silver is a scavenger for airborne materials and will tarnish so it’s best to avoid exposure to smoke, soot, heaters and cooking fats.
  • If you’re using a polish on your trophies, be sure to wash the residue off. Rinse thoroughly.
  • A soft clean brush, such as a toothbrush or a small paint brush, is good for reaching intricate pattern work or ornate surfaces.
  • Microfibre cloth technology is constantly improving. Look for a cloth designed for metal polishing.

Textiles, photographs and paper

It is important to maintain a suitable environment for storing your textiles, photographs and certificates:

  • Textiles and paper-based materials including photographs and certificates should be placed in a cool, dry and well-ventilated environment.
  • Avoid storage in the attic, under the house or along the outside walls of a building, where environmental conditions are more prone to extremes and fluctuations.
  • Be sure to clean your textiles before you store them.

How to choose storage materials

  • Keep your memorabilia in enclosures that protect them from dust and light and provide physical support during use.
  • Use chemically stable plastic or paper enclosures, such as uncoated polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene based plastics, or unbufferred archival quality storage papers.
  • Further protection can be gained by placing these enclosed items in acid-free, durable boxes.
  • Do not repair tears or other damage with pressure sensitive tape. The adhesive will rapidly fail and stain the object. Do not allow pressure sensitive tapes or films to come into contact with your textiles or memorabilia.
  • Do not attempt to separate photographs that are stuck to each other or other materials.
  • When storing photograph albums, it is best to interleave each page with unbuffered tissues and to house the album in a suitably sized acid-free, durable box.
  • Magnetic or self-adhesive albums can be detrimental to photographs and should not be used.
  • Use unbuffered acid free tissue to pack out any costume, to minimise creases and fold lines.
  • Once the costume is packed, place an insect deterrent such as a lavender bag in the box, but not in direct contact with the textiles.
  • Don’t use moth balls or naphthalene when storing your textiles and memorabilia. These materials can affect the fibres and dyes and are not good for your health.

How to display memorabilia

If you plan to have your memorabilia on show:

  • Paper and textile based items should be protected from extended exposure to intense light sources such as direct sunlight.
  • Take a copy of your photographs and display the copy so the original can be stored safely.
  • If an item is to be displayed in a frame, use unbuffered ragboard mats, and frame it using archivally sound materials. If possible the glazing material should filter out any ultraviolet light. If displaying a photograph or a textile, allow a space between the object and the glazing.

Consult a qualified conservator for further advice or treatment.

Tarnished International Rugby League trophy before conservation treatment - click to view larger image
Australie-France Trophée before
Silver International Rugby League trophy after conservation treatment - click to view larger image
Australie-France Trophée after
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