Earlier this year, the Museum’s Collections Team began work that will hopefully see objects in the Museum’s extensive collections preserved for a long time to come.

In January 2024, the Museum was contacted by the company HiTek-nology Solutions Ltd (HiTek), to discuss the possibility of a joint project. HiTek supplies a range of products designed to preserve metal surfaces and objects. They were searching for a collaborative organisation with which to explore the use of these materials in a heritage environment.

The Museum agreed to trial the products, and created a list of objects from the collection to be used in the scheme. These items were chosen with the aim of creating a group containing a wide range of different metals in varying conditions. The application of the treatments has no associated risks and are designed as a measure of preventative conservation: they slow the degradation of metals by inhibiting rust and have been successfully used in other sectors. HiTek perceived an advantage in having a selection of their products used by one museum in a relatively short time frame.

The chosen items ranged in size from individual medals to complete engines. Some of the objects were treated with liquid rust inhibitors or preservatives, while others were placed in sealable polythene bags that have been specially designed to prevent deterioration over the long term.

High-resolution reference images and short films were taken at the project’s outset in order to provide a detailed baseline with which future comparisons of the individual object’s condition can be made. We anticipate the treated objects will be inspected every three months, when further photographs will be taken and comparisons made and recorded.

These are a selection of images taken during the treatment process:

A freestanding engine in storage.

Blue plastic sheeting covering an engine in storage.

A free-standing engine housed at our Reserve Collection Hangar, before and after being wrapped in a 126 Cortec bag. Foam pads were also placed around the engine that, over time, emit vapours forming a protective molecular layer on the surrounding surfaces, further preventing rust. The metal plate in the background will provide a control with which to compare the same environment (without intervention) after set periods of time. 

One medal on its own and 6 medals mounted together.

We used the same methods for both medals that have already tarnished and medals in a very good condition. Each was placed in a protective polythene bag specially made to inhibit rust. A successful treatment will see no further changes on either set. Left: Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, previously tarnished. Right: Medal group including 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, 1939-45 Medal, General Service Medal with Palestine 1945-48 clasp and Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

The tail of a blue helicopter parked on ground, a white liquid is dripping down the sides of the tail.

The tail of the Lynx helicopter outside Crown’s Café was cleaned, then treated with a water-based temporary coating designed to inhibit rust (the white coating has fully dried clear).Take care when you visit not to touch - we ask this anyway but it is now even more important for your health and safety, as well as the success of this project!

The final outcomes of the trials will be presented in a comprehensive report. We anticipate this will be completed by June - July 2025.

Keep an eye out for further updates throughout the year as we check on the objects and complete inspections of their condition. We’ll also be posting on social media with some of the treatment footage.