Mark Kearney

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Dirt off your shoulder…

Close up on dust

One of the great challenges in museums is keeping the collection clean once it’s on display – dust & dirt are our number one enemy! This isn’t a new problem either, as far back as the mid 1800’s museum professionals have been worried about what the local environmental conditions were doing to their collections. Michael […]

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17th Century Modern Materials

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A while back I was given six small samples to analyse – nothing unusual about this till I looked at the images of the object that the samples had come from and immediately had grand notions of treasure hunting for the Holy Grail with Indiana Jones! These thoughts were soon followed by me humming ‘knights […]

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Mini post No. 10 – How to scare the intern…

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Though my university training and this internship I have come accustomed to handling museum objects, and for the most part I’m perfectly comfortable doing this – except when it comes to the ceramics study galleries. I’ve always loved those new galleries but they have always scared me a little – something about densely packed fragile […]

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Raspberry Pi Project – 1st video

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Last July I wrote about our project using a raspberry pi and its camera module to track the decay of a plastic handbag. The project has been running for about 4 months now and we complied the first video not so long ago. To be honest we were more than a little nervous about this […]

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Mini Post No. 9 – Sometimes we get things wrong!

The Darwin image under the XRF machine head. (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Let me begin with a little confession – while we like to think of ourselves as immune to them, sometimes we make silly mistakes. This happened most recently when we began the XRF analysis of some Julia Margaret Cameron photographs to see if the images had been tinted with other elements like gold. Many of […]

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Mini Post No.8 – Ghosts of Logos past

One of the 1st Laptops used in the conservation science section of the museum - A Toshiba t1600

As part of my internship I have been repeating and expanding on some of the experiments into cleaning that they did during the POPART project. One part has been repeating experiments on real-world objects that have a surface texture – more on that in a later post though! The unusual object I’ve been using to […]

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So what are you doing with a science degree in a design museum…

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At the very beginning of my internship I posted (in rather mushy way) about the FTIR machine that we have here in the lab. We have quite a good setup here and over the past number of months I’ve been trying to take every advantage I can to use it. FTIR stands for Fourier Transform […]

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Mini Post No. 7 – Using a Raspberry Pi to watch a handbag decay

The current setup for a long duration time lapse. Its hoped that we might gain some insight into the decay rate by recording the progress over the next 6 months or so.

So a while back I posted an image of one of the plastic handbags we have here in the Conservation Science Dept. We use these non-museum objects as sacrificial lambs in the aid of heritage science. We have a second handbag that has started to dramatically decay. As we will use any excuse here in the […]

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Mini Post No. 6 – How safe are your photographs?

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So I have been researching about Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) over the past while and I came across this lovely example in the lab of the major danger associated with PVC. Many of us have our family photos kept in ‘plastic’ photo albums – most of these are going to be made from PVC. The biggest […]

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Mini Post No. 5 – Storing the samples we analyse

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We collect a lot of samples during the year and these days we store them in little plastic resealable bags or if they are really small we put them in clear gelatin capsules… But back in the days before plastic (and in an era where more people smoked!) we used matchstick boxes.  

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