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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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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Guest post: Michelangelo’s David – Part 2: By-product of the movie industry allows for historical investigation of David’s cast

Data being captured with LiDAR laser scanner (foreground) and photography (background). Image Johanna Puisto © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Jonathan Fletcher MRICS is a Technical Specialist at Plowman Craven, UK’s leading specialist chartered surveyors in 3D scanning.   One of the most famous statues in the world is Michelangelo’s depiction of David as he stands poised to face the giant Goliath, armed with the latest technology of his time, a trebuchet sling. Armed with […]

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Recording console from The Dark Side of the Moon

The V&A are displaying the iconic Abbey Road Studio’s EMI TG12345 Mk IV Recording Console used between 1971 – 1983, a star attraction for the Pink Floyd : their mortal remains Exhibition. Amongst the recordings made on this console was their landmark album The Dark Side of the Moon. The recording console located in Studio […]

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Michelangelo’s David – Part 1: Creating virtual copies of casts

Plaster figure of Michelangelo's David (Mus.no. Repro.161-1857) during scanning at the Weston Cast Court Gallery. Image ©Plowman Craven

I often receive enquiries about the V&A’s plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David (Mus.no. 161-1857), which I have been researching since I cleaned and conserved it between 2013-14. Last year I received an unusual request for a 3D scan of the cast so a 1:1 physical model could be generated and used as a featured prop […]

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Under the Skin of the Spirit of Gaiety – Part 3

Figure 1: The Spirit of Gaiety (S.2630-1996)

  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.   Elemental analysis* In my last blog I showed you what the layer structure of the Spirit of Gaiety looks like under […]

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Preparation of three 14th century gravestones for a display at the National Museum of Oman

Shaykh Mohammad’s gravestone (Mus. number A.5-1932) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A while ago, I was asked to assess the condition of three 14th century gravestones, which have since travelled to a newly built National Museum of Oman in Muscat. The gravestones are beautiful in themselves, but they also tell a very interesting story about trade in the Indian Ocean. They were carved at Khambhat in Gujarat from […]

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Conservation of a De Haviland Aviation Drop Tank

The De Haviland Museum Trust have generously loaned an auxiliary aviation ‘drop tank’ – a supplementary fuel tank carried by aircraft.  This object will feature in our forthcoming exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, 15 July – 12 November 2017. Drop tanks were developed to extend the operational capacity of fighter aircraft and bombers. These […]

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Under the Skin of the Spirit of Gaiety – Part 2

Figure 1: Three paint samples from the Angel embedded in polyester resin and polished as cross sections.

  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. Optical Microscopy A few days ago I outlined the reasons why we are investigating the gilding of the Gaiety Angel. Here is […]

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