Cavity Packing Objects
In 2017, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened a new purpose built off-site facility called the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center. Our team was tasked with rehousing the 20,000 object collection to move from the original off-site storage facility to the new facility in four months. Four custom housing methods were developed to quickly stabilize the objects during the move as well as be utilized for continued storage, thus minimizing handling of the objects when needed for viewing.
Rebecca Beyth, Preventive Conservator
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place
Washington, DC 20024
202-488-0400 x 552362
Photo Credits: Rebecca Beyth, Courtesy of USHMM
One method is to secure an object by cavity packing it. A cavity is carved out of ethafoam, slightly padding with batting and covered with Teflon wrap to make a smooth a surface. The object is then tied into the cavity with twill tape or a pillow is made to fit over the object and held in place by the box lid.
Materials, Tools & Supplies
- B-Flute Corrugated Board or Coroplast
- Box Cutter
- Cutting Mat
- Hot-Melt Glue
- Twill Tape
- Polyester Batting
- Teflon Artifact Wrap
- Create custom box or use standard pre-made box to fit object with room for clearance.
- Either piece together ethafoam to create a cavity to fit the object or carve a cavity from a block of ethafoam that fits in the box (Fig.1).
- If needed, pad the surface of the cavity with padding.
- Cover the surface (whether padded or not) with Teflon tape to create a smooth surface (Fig.2).
- If using twill ties to hold object in cavity, glue ties to inner sides of box bottom
- Glue cavity into box bottom.
- Place Object in box. Place Volara strips under areas of twill ties and tie ties (Fig.3).
- If not using twill ties, make pillow out of batting and Tyvek or Teflon wrap that comes slightly over the top of the box when the object is in it. The pressure of the box top will hold the object and pillow in place.