Conservation

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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Raspberry Pi Project – 1st video

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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David's left eye

David revealed!

One of the most significant works of art in the Victoria and Albert Museum is the plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David (Repro.1856-161) by Clemente Papi (1803-1875). David has recently received an enormous amount of worldwide media attention around the removal of the protective shroud that he has worn while the Cast Courts have been renovated. […]

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The cast of Michelangelo’s David, REPRO.1857-161, showing sampling locations

Exploratory surgery on the cast of Michelangelo’s David

Being Italian, I always felt secretly chuffed when I passed by the V&A Cast Courts and saw the plaster replica of Michelangelo’s David standing there: who better than him could watch over other reproductions of medieval and Renaissance masterpieces from the Bel Paese? Imagine then how thrilled I was when I was asked to perform […]

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Time to shop

It is very difficult to buy good quality Chinese xuan paper and mounting silk in the UK. So whilst here in Nanjing I am off on a shopping expedition. Xuan paper is sold by the Chinese foot (bigger than the old English foot), and the usual sizes are 4, 5 and 6 feet. Even in […]

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Inking up

Ink rubbings are easy, apparently

Part of the reason for going to Nanjing was to learn how to take an ink rubbing. Luckily Master Yu, my teacher, is also able to show me the technique. ‘It is easy’, he says.  So we begin by making our paizi (dabbers). One male and one female. These are constructed from soft old cotton fabric, […]

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Calligraphy and Paintings Mounting and RestorationRoom, Nanjing Museum

Nanjing, made it.

Arrived in Nanjing via the bullet train and am staying in the Confucius Temple area with a river view. This sounds all very idyllic until you realize that the Chinese tourist plies this river on lantern adorned boats until 11 at night with the commentary, obviously in Mandarin, coming from both directions, up and down […]

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Listening to singers in a park

The streets of Shanghai

I am Shanghai where I am staying with a local family in order to improve my Mandarin before I go and spend a month at the scroll mounting conservation studio in Nanjing Museum. The area I am living in is very communal to the point where everything happens out on the streets in full view […]

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Boiling the mulberry fibres

Making paper

As a bonus we were able to spend a day at Jang Ji Bang (Jang’s Paper Room) where Jang Youn Hoon showed us the whole process of making paper from the mulberry fibres grown on his land.  This process, where the fibres are boiled, hand cleaned, beaten to a pulp and cast on a bamboo […]

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Paper, paper

Arrived in foggy Seoul but at least the temperature is more comfortable than Hong Kong. Straight to Kwang -Young Chun’s house where we contrasted the method of dying paper with natural plant dyes to achieve a bright and relatively stable palette. What a beautiful place set in the hills and surrounded by trees and very noisy […]

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

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

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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