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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Failures, and Singing in the Rain…

Sabre003

In the last episode there were some distasteful matters. Trying to help an elderly couple selling a collection, I unwittingly delivered them into victimhood. Simultaneously, I set about reuniting with my ex-partner KK, and her son Arrow. Finally, my career seemed to have found its feet, but this was not the case… In this installment, […]

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The Future of Fashion in Museums: Conference at the Rijksmuseum

From left to right: Rachael Catherine Lee, Lilia Prier Tisdall, Zoe Lanceley, Lara Flecker, Paul Sohi, Rachael Lee

The Textile Conservation Costume Mounting team recently downed needles and thread to attend a two day conference at the Rijksmuseum titled Fashion in Museums: Past, Present & Future. Museum professionals from Europe and North America gathered to discuss the recent phenomenon of blockbuster fashion exhibitions and their effect on the museum landscape. The contributions and […]

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The Complex World of Small Things: Part Three

Hand signal, New York crossing

Hands that Make, Hands that Hold, Hands that Mend According to the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, hands are “man’s outer brain”. They form what we conjure up in our heads: they are the tools of our consciousness. The brain co-ordinates the hand and eye to produce objects just like the portrait miniatures that […]

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The Complex World of Small Things: Part Two

Microscope detail of Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger, museum no: P.153:1,2-1910

Tools of the Trade Here is a photograph of the tools I have brought with me for my month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: From its contents you may think that my profession leaned more towards that of the dental or woodworking industry than conservation but these really are some of the tools that […]

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Learning the Value of Comics: A Lesson in Criminality

In the last episode, I encountered unexpected chicanery and duplicity when it came to adding to my collection. During my childhood, comics took me out of the world. In adulthood, they pushed back me into the world. Collecting comics also made me see money in a different light. When I ran short on unread comics […]

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The Complex World of Small Things: Part One

Microscopic detail, 'Charles Beale the Elder', 1664, by Thomas Flatman. Museum no. P.13-1941.© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 Musings on the materials and techniques of portrait miniatures Contrary to popular belief, small does not equal easy: not in the world of the conservation of portrait miniatures, nor anywhere else, I imagine. The V&A, where I am a senior paper conservator, is the home to the National Collection of portrait miniatures, numbering over 2000, […]

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Guest post: Plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David in the plaster cast workshop of the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels

PICTURE 1 : David in the Brussels plaster cast workshop ©KMKG-MRAH, Brussels

Nele Strobbe is Head of the Plaster Cast Workshop at the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels The plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David at the Victoria and Albert Museum has, in addition to his ‘cousin’ in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, another one in Brussels. Currently most of this David […]

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Riveting Rivets

Left to right: rivet, rivet plate, riveter

A good blog should be a riveting read, but this is a blog about riveting… Over the last week this fanciful tool has become a trusted friend as I face the challenge of ensuring our mannequins are going to keep their bits together for the Undressed exhibition and subsequent tour. Forget the saucy underwear – this is what gets me […]

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A new home for Neptune and Triton in the Europe 1600-1815 Gallery

Detail of Neptune's face © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Neptune and Triton (Mus. No. A.18-1950) by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is one of the V&A’s most well-known Italian marble groups. The sculpture, which stands nearly two meters high and weighs over 8oo kg was recently moved to the newly refurbished Europe 1600-1815 gallery, where it now stands in prime position, with Neptune casting his terrifying gaze upon […]

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Too Petite for Petite: Mounting a 19th Century Corset for Undressed

Marking out the position of the breasts using coloured pins

Costume mounting is the topsy-turvy task of making a mannequin fit a particular object, a job that can often make you feel more like plastic surgeon than a museum employee, as the following post explains… First up on the Undressed costume mounting schedule is this charming cotton corset dating from 1825-35. Don’t be deceived by its […]

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