Preservation Week Day 3 bonus: Storing Models

This is the fourth post in a week-long series celebrating National Preservation Week.  NMAM blog posts in this series will discuss how to preserve your own modeling history. 

I’m hoping to do a step-by-step guide to how the NMAM wraps and hangs model airplanes sometime during the summer of 2013.  In the meantime, here’s a look at how some common acid-free supplies were used to store a fragile model helicopter toy.

Late 1940s toy helicopter.
Late 1940s toy helicopter. Source: National Model Aviation Museum, doanted by George Twine, 2009.07.01.

This toy helicopter dates to the late 1940s.  The fuselage is a thin, bent piece of aluminum and the rotor blades are a wire frame covered in tissue.  The blade support piece is bent forward, so the rotor blades do not sit as they would have in flight.  

toyheliblade toyhelifuselage

The blades are bent and have several tears in the delicate tissue covering.  Luckily, the fuselage is relatively unscathed.

Acid-free box records carton box lid
Acid-free tissue paper
Archival Polyester sheets, cut into straps
Inert double-sided tape
Polyethylene foam



1. Each rotor blade was individually wrapped in acid-free tissue. The tissue sleeves are held in place by the straps of polyester sheeting closed with tape.

2.  The fuselage section and the winder were also individually wrapped in acid-free tissue.


3.  Foam was placed on the (flat) acid-free box lid.  Together, this acts as the main support for the artifact.

4.  The entire rotor then was placed on the support.  The center and each blade were further supported with foam, so that the weight was equally distributed and there was no undue pressure on any piece. 
5.  The rotor blades were held in place by the polyester sheeting straps, which wrapped over the part and the support.  The straps were held in place by pieces of the tape.

6.  The fuselage and winder were placed on the support.  Again, the polyester sheeting straps were used to gently hold each piece in place.

7.  The assigned catalog number was written on the support to make it easy to find and identify later.

If you want more advice on preserving your model airplanes, feel free to ask your questions to the museum’s blog, Facebook page, or by emailing staff directly at

Preservation Week - pass it onSponsored by the ALA’s Association for Library Collections and Technical Services and partner organizations, Preservation Week will inspire actions to preserve personal, family and community collections of all kinds, as well as library, museum and archive collections. It will raise awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions can play in providing ongoing preservation information. More information can be found at:

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