I can be convinced that this is a duplicate of this other Q&A, but there isn't much there that seems to pertain to preservation of already well-dried wood art pieces. But I'll go along with what the community decides.
We recently were given a few small pieces of marquetry artwork that are a decade or so old at this point. These are not fine art pieces, but rather examples of Indian handcrafts purchased in that country as souvenirs.
(I do apologize for not posting photos, but I forgot to capture examples before I left home today. I will update this question with examples if it will help.)
Over the years, the North American climate has caused some of the pieces of marquetry to split, though the glue has held up surprisingly well. I'm told they have lost some contrast over the years, as well.
From our perspective, the aging just adds to their charm, so no one wants to treat these like museum pieces. In the interest of preserving these as-is, what finish recommendations for maintaining wood health (e.g., discouraging anything that might want to treat the artwork as a food source, minimizing further checking) would people have?
The existing "finish" is unknown, if it was finished at all. The surfaces are very matte, with a fair amount of gaps between the pieces that show no varnish or poly style finishes. It might have been oiled at some point by the original craftsperson.
I was thinking of just treating these like a cutting board or a spoon; some sort of stable mineral oil and/or beeswax (for no other reason other than that is what I have handy). I've also been reading about proprietary wood preservers and the old stand-by of PEG as a first or only step; but these pieces are not at all green, which is what most discussion assumes.
But I'm open to suggestion for any minimal finish that just keeps things as-is.
We don't care if the finish is darkened; this will actually add to the look, as the original intention was to combine light and dark wood for effect. So a finish that increases contrast is ok.
Something that is shiny or an "obvious" finish is less desirable, as the original look is rather raw and hand-made.
Full disclosure: I mention pests. There are unconfirmed reports that some sort of insect had to be cleaned off of these pieces after they were in storage (perhaps someplace in the South-East US, but this is a guess). There are no obvious pests on them now, and no obvious pest damage, but if that is a consideration there you have it.
I would also accept "leave it alone; it's been fine for decades so why mess with it". And given that I will probably not want to touch this with anything other than a soft cloth (i.e., no sanding between coats!) this is a totally reasonable answer. But we may as well harness the power of the Stack to see.