What do a hair dryer, Q-tips, an old toothbrush and specialized metal conservation pastes have in common? The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation used these items to care for this plaque – pictured, above left, before the cleaning, and, above right, halfway through – which honors graduates of the MGH School of Nursing who died while serving at World War I military hospitals. If a museum artifact is showing signs of its age, museum staff usually leave it alone as long as it is not in danger of deteriorating. This plaque, however, had developed a green-brown patina during its 98 years, and staff chose to return it to its original look. The process included removing a fine layer of aged metal and applying a wax sealant to slow the aging process. The plaque is on display – as part of an exhibit series commemorating the MGH’s work during World War I – in the White Lobby now through the end of March.

Read more articles from the 01/25/19 Hotline issue.