So unfortunately the Herbarium suffered from a flood last week. We were really lucky that damage to the specimens was minimal, though some things still need sorting out. The flood entered the Materia Medica room where I’ve been working on the Medicinal Plants collection and did the following:
-Leaked into the large objects cupboard, in some cases completely filling some of the bagged specimens with water.
-Flooded around some of the boxed specimens of crude drugs and seeds, thereby disintegrating or damaging the cardboard parts of the glass topped boxes.
-Washed away labels or information on those labels.
The wonderful conservation team wasted no time in setting out blotting paper and dehumidifiers and drying herbarium sheets and seeds, so we were able to save most of it. So the morning after this is what the specimens in the Materia Medica looked like:
After evaluating the damage it was pretty clear that the specimens needed reboxing and in some cases, identifying as the label information was either muddled or lost.
Once all the specimens were dry, the conservation intern Erin and I started reboxing the specimens. The poisonous seeds were given priority, as I wanted them safely away as soon as possible. The glass topped boxes were replaced with crystal boxes and any remaining labels were kept with the specimens. Next week I’ll be double checking the labels actually match the specimens, and reidentifying any specimens that lost their labels entirely.