Beginnings

As with all of the objects that make their way through the conservation department, the first job is to do a full assessment of the object.

Each of the conservation departments involved (Metals, Sculpture, Textiles and Furniture and the Mount team) have examined the doll and given an estimate for the length of time needed to carry out the work on their particular material.

The lacquer and the textile elements need the most work in order to support and stabilise these elements for display.

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The metal chain mail and other metal elements need the least amount of work and will be worked on last in the sequence of treatments.

The order of the treatment was then discussed with all of the team present, the longest treatments obviously needed to begin sooner.

The next job was to carefully dismantle the armour and doll, whilst carefully documenting every stage to ensure that we are able to put it back together in the correct order and original positions.  This includes taking photographs of undoing all the knots and toggles.  We ended up with over 80 detailed photographs, but a very good record of the armour’s construction.

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This was an exciting stage in the treatment as we had no idea what was underneath.  The frame of the doll was made in the 19th century and so nobody in the museum had seen the doll ‘undressed’ before. 

The arms and legs are made from straw, which is wrapped in many layers of newspaper, the top layer of which has been painted black.  Some of the newspaper is English and some has been printed in Japanese.  This may give a very good indication of the date of the original frame.

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