Preservation Week 2014: Storing Large Models

Models airplanes are graceful in the air, but often can be clunky, bulky, and hard to handle on the ground.  These characteristics make finding a method of storing a large number of them rather difficult, especially when preservation needs – like protecting against light, dust, pests, and bad handling come into play.

Model Airplanes are stored wrapped in tissue and hanging from the ceiling.

At the National Model Aviation Museum, we’ve utilized our ceiling as a storage space, hanging models in custom made bridles.  Heavier, larger models find homes on shelves.  Museum staff have handling procedures in place that guide how the models are hung and removed from their hooks to prevent handling damage, and acid-free tissue wrapping keeps light and dust at bay.

Large models rest on the top shelves of the museum's storage units.

During Preservation Week 2013, I offered a series of tips on what to consider when storing your model airplanes.  One of the tips was to wrap the model in acid-free tissue, or clean, unbleached muslin to protect against light, dust and moisture.

Here’s how to do this.

Supplies include scissors, acid-free tissue and strips of clear plastic sheeting.
First, gather your supplies.

First, gather your supplies and prep them in a place with lots of room to work.  I use acid-free tissue, inert double-sided tape, strips of plastic sheet and a good pair of scissors.  You might use clean, unbleached muslin, cotton twine and a good pair of scissors.

Beginning to wrap the covering material around the main part of the fuselage.
Second, cut the wrapping material and start to place it around the fuselage.

Second, cut the wrapping material and wrap it around the largest section of the fuselage.  Making sure to make cut-outs for cockpits and other irregular pieces.

The fuselage wrapped with the covering material.
Make sure the covering material is wrapped evenly and tightly.

Make sure the wrapping is tight and covers each section of the fuselage equally.

A clear piece of plastic sheeting is wrapped around the model and taped to itself to hold the covering material in place.
Double-sided tape and strips of plastic sheeting hold the covering material in place.

I use strips of plastic sheeting closed with double-sided tape to hold the wrapping material in place.  Tied cotton twine would work just as well.

The vertical stabilizer is wrapped in acid-free tissue.
Wrap the tail surfaces.

Third, cover the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, and any other uncovered pieces of the fuselage.  Wrapping these areas can often be tricky because of the smaller size and unusual shape.  Folding the covering material to fit the shape helps, as does some patience and lots of straps holding the material in place.

The horizontal tail surface needs extra small pieces of tissue to cover the center part.
Use smaller pieces of covering material to cover any unreached spots.

Use smaller pieces to cover surfaces not reached by the bigger pieces of tissue.

Acid-free tissue is measured to size and begun to be wrapped around the wing.
Cut the material to the right size and cover the wing.

Next, cover the wing sections the same way you covered the fuselage.  It is important to wrap each section evenly and equally so there is no mismatched fading.

The fuselage and wing sections completely wrapped in acid-free tissue and ready to store.
The model, ready to find its home in storage.

Once you’ve covered every part of the model, it is ready to place it storage.

Fuselage and wing sections stored on a rack mounetd to the wall.
Some models are stored in wing racks.

Wing Racks mounted on walls a convenient, space-friendly method of storing models.  Make sure the supports are close enough together to support the piece, and are wide enough to protect against pressure damage.

Have questions?  Get in touch with Maria by leaving a reply, replying on Facebook, or emailing her at

Picture credit:   National Model Aviation Museum Permanent Collection, donated by the Cradle of Aviation Museum, 2000.87.01.

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:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *