The Hayward Area Historical Society strives to tell the combined histories of Castro Valley, Hayward, and San Lorenzo, California, through the operation of a museum and the preservation of several historic sites and a historic cemetery. Like many historical organizations, the society’s collection is extremely varied and includes a range of fine and decorative arts, in addition to other objects.
In January 2006, as work was underway to re-house, inventory, and catalog the society’s collection, black mold was discovered on wooden shelving supports in the large-artifact storage area. Immediate steps were taken to contain the situation. Experts were called in to identify the type of mold and assess the risk to the collection and staff.
Once it was clear there were no major health risks, the society’s five staff members moved the collection to a temporary storage location with the help of volunteers and interns from local universities. During the move, each object was assessed, and those that were contaminated were isolated. The board of directors, recognizing the severity of the problem, authorized the purchase of new shelving equipment and the contracting of environmental experts, who removed the existing shelving and sterilized the storage area. New metal shelving has been installed and the entire large-artifact collection has been re-housed. Efforts are ongoing to complete the cataloging and inventory project.