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Pest control in museums must be carried out in a way that eliminates the pest animals without damaging the objects or the health of the staff and public.

The research of PRE-MAL therefore includes tests concerning the effects of pest control methods on: 

  • pest insects
  • objects
  • humans

Effects of climate on pest insects

A Nordic project  "Insects pests and climate change - The Attagenus smirnovi project" started in 2008 . We are interested in all data about the distribution in Europe of the dermestid Attagenus smirnovi, which is a museum pest insect.  If You have relevant information on the species, please fill in the form on the Attagenus smirnovi project page.

Effects of the control methods on pest insects

Anoxia The effectiveness of low oxygen treatments like vacuum and nitrogen are tested on Nordic museum pest species. This is performed in cooperation with Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory and Technical University of Denmark, Department of BioCenter - DTU, Lyngby, Denmark.

The project "Preventive Conservation with oxygen free microclimate" was led from the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. The effects of long-term storage in low oxygen atmosphere were tested on various materials. The oxygen concentration was reduced by an oxygen scavenger. A mobile unit containing all the necessary equipment for practical usage was developed. This unit is now available for other museums and institutions. The project was financed by the Swedish National Heritage Board and Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation Eight institutions participated in the project:

PRE-MAL participated in the project by testing the anoxic method for pest control. A treatment of old moth infested saddles at Skokloster Castle was included in this part of the project.

The European Union financed project "Save Art" started in May 1998. This project was based on pest control by reduction of the oxygen concentration of the atmosphere achieved through an electromechanical nitrogen generator (the VELOXY system). The project was a result of a co-operation between six parties from Italy, Great Britain, Spain and Sweden.

Freezing and heat treatment

The project "Freezing and heat treatment - non-toxic control methods against insect pests in museums" is a cooperation between PRE-MAL, Kulturen in Lund and the Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory. The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs is supporting the project financially.


It is not recommended to apply chemical substances directly to museum items. However, pesticides can sometimes be used in surrounding locations. The effects of four pesticides on museum pest species have been tested. Wrapping material treated with pesticides as protection against pest insects has been tested. The tests were performed at the Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory.

The Effects of Pest Control Methods on Objects


Freezing is one of the most common physical pest control methods used in museums. The effect of freezing on woollen textiles has been investigated in cooperation with the Swedish Institute for Fibre and Polymer Research, and the effect on paper has been tested at the Swedish National Testing and Research Institute.

Health Hazards

The Department of Occupational Health of Karolinska Institute and the Department of Environmental Assessment at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have carried out an investigation of the exposure of Swedish museum personnel to pesticides.

PRE-MAL Awarded European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award.