With contributions from all sections of the Department, we intended to highlight current projects and research carried out by the Conservation Department at the V&A, including work on exhibitions and displays currently on show at the Museum and touring throughout the world.

The Conservation Department is responsible for the preservation, conservation, investigation and display of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collections, ensuring that they are safeguarded for present and future generations. Combining expert knowledge of science, the history of materials and techniques and practical proficiency, underpinned by scientific analysis, staff carry out research, assessments and practical conservation treatment on objects.

In addition, Conservation staff interpret the processes of deterioration, and evaluate provenance, authenticity and the restoration history of V&A objects. The Department consists of ten studios and four Conservation Sections (Paper, Book and Paintings Conservation; Sculpture, Metalwork Ceramics and Glass Conservation; Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Conservation, and Conservation Science). It covers all collections held by the V&A, including the Theatre and Performance collection, the Archive of Art & Design, the National Art Library and the Museum of Childhood.

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James Leman’s glorious palette – Part 2

Figure 1: V&A Science Section population count – updated in March 2017.

This series of blog entries describes the scientific analysis of pigments and dyes used on the Leman Album designs. In March 2017 the population of the V&A Science Section, normally amounting to a meagre 5 bodies, ballooned to a whopping 11 (Figure 1). This was due to a very welcome invasion of MOLAB foreign scientists […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Reflection

Mirror with carved & gilt frame, Venetian; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 - 68), Albumen Print; from the album, Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol.2 by John Webb, 1853.

Seeing Other Things in an Object. The V&A recently had an exhibition in the Photography Gallery – The Camera Exposed, where every photograph had an image of least one camera, either as deliberate portraits, snapshots, collages, shadows & reflections. Probably the most famous in the Guard Books are early photographs of Mirror Frames by Charles Thurston Thompson, […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Glimpse Into the Past

Central View of The Octagon Court ; with room sets displays;

The Museum as it Was, 1929 – 1950. Take a look at this interior from 1936, and where do you think it is?.. …no, it`s not the main entrance, this is Gallery 40, without the Mezzanine floor, and not a costume in site. It was known at the time as The Octagon Court, Furniture Displays Gallery, each […]

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James Leman’s glorious palette – Part 1

Figure 1: The Leman Album (E.1861-1991) © Victoria and Albert Museum.

This series of blog entries describes the scientific analysis of pigments and dyes used on the Leman Album designs. The Leman Album is a collection of stunningly colourful early 18th century designs for woven silk textiles created by James Leman (Figure 1). It was chosen in 2016 to be the focus of a multidisciplinary research […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Resource for Research

Portrait miniatures submitted for appraisal in 1939.

Well… I never knew that….. This digitisation project is providing a unique opportunity for various areas of research about the museums collections, the history of the building, exhibitions, activities, and items that were here for a short period of time for displays, or appraisals, and those that left the building never to be seen again, with examples in this blog, of […]

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Rome is a dream city for many travellers and artists for centuries. I propose you a journey to the discovery of Rome in 1569 through “Urbis Romae aedificiorum illustrium quae supersunt reliquiae”, “Views of Ancient Rome” by Giovanni Antonio Dosio (1533–1611), an Italian architect and sculptor, and published by Giovanni Battista de Cavalieri (1526–1597), an […]

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Introducing…The Leman Album

The Leman album, an enhanced facsimile, is one of the V&A Research Institute’s (VARI)first ‘named’ projects. Containing some 97 vibrantly coloured designs for woven silk by the second-generation Huguenot émigré, James Leman (b.1688), the designs were produced between 1706 and 1716.   They are the earliest known dated designs for woven silk and at some stage in their lifetime were […]

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A prayer book fit for a king

Figure 1. The Nativity by Jean Bourdichon (1499), E.949-2003 © Victoria and Albert Museum.

What would a medieval king’s prayer book look like? If you search the collections of the V&A you can find a manuscript page which was originally part of the Book of Hours of Louis XII, king of France between 1498 and 1515. This Book of Hours, a type of devotional prayer book popular in medieval […]

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Under the skin of the Spirit of Gaiety – Part 4

Head and bust of the Spirit of Gaiety during its conservation treatment

  This series of blog entries is about the scientific examination of the gold finish of the Spirit of Gaiety, the angel which once graced the dome of the Gaiety Theatre in London. Raman analysis Over the past few weeks I have been looking at the thick golden paint the covers the Spirit of Gaiety […]

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Guest Post: Michelangelo’s David – Part 3: Constructing a full-scale model

Lead sculptor smoothing finish surface coat of plaster. Image courtesy of the 20th Century Fox

Author Chris Seagers is an Art Director and Production Designer who recently collaborated with Ridley Scott on Alien: Covenant (2017). In the Alien: Covenant script, director Ridley Scott wanted to create a prologue sequence. This would be an engagement between a synthetic (Michael Fassbender) and his maker (Guy Pearce) in a philosophical conversation ‘if you […]

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