Nearly every museum in the world sports plastic objects, from vintage phones to foam art masterpieces. Some are more vulnerable to decay than others—depending on how the plastic was made.
This has forced museums to turn to chemical analyses to determine what their plastic artifacts contain—and how best to preserve them. They’ve also cooked up plastics based on old recipes to test how they degrade.
The race to preserve plastics is about more than nostalgia. These artifacts may serve as time capsules for future societies to understand our own.