Abstract for: COMPLEX: Using a System Dynamics Approach to Modelling Plastic Artefacts in Museum Collections

Plastics are an important part of our material heritage which are collected by museums in their millions. Unfortunately, they present significant conservation issues as they degrade rapidly and dramatically. COMPLEX is a project that aims to fundamentally re-think current attitudes to plastics conservation, by taking a system dynamics approach to a materials degradation problem. COMPLEX considers a plastic museum artefact in its environment as a dynamic system. It seeks to understand the structure of that system and to identify key leverage points at which intervention can lead to desired change. We have developed mathematical models to define key degradation processes in plastic artefacts and how they are linked to environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity. Further work is required to integrate the different components of the system.