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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Under the Skin of the Spirit of Gaiety – Part 1

Figure 1 - The Spirit of Gaiety, Hibbert C. Binney, 1904. Museum no. S.2630-1996.

Many of you may have had a glimpse of the Spirit of Gaiety statue from the Painting Galleries (Figure 1): it is a very large, carved and gilded angel blowing a trumpet, originally designed for the dome of the Gaiety Theatre in London and erected there in 1904 (Figure 2). Although any visitor can view […]

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Bamboozling, Flash Gordon and a Magical Mystery Tour

In my previous post, I spoke about the The Black Panther , a comic that inaugurated by Jack Kirby before Don McGregor imposed his own inimitable stamp of racial awareness on it. Our story continues… The last episode opened with Lindsay Anderson and closed with Malcolm McDowell responding in different ways to my comic addiction. […]

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Meet the Collector!

Ian Rakoff

Dear Cultural Collaborators, Below are the details for my next event at the museum. I’ve seldom tackled the linkage between apartheid and my own psychology. By bringing up old memories, I view the impact of comics and the addiction to collecting in a different light – being put on the spot with questions I feel compelled […]

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GUEST POST: My Qur’an pendant from Syria

Victor Borges is a Senior Sculpture Conservator at the V&A. One day when I was delivering an object to Victor in Sculpture Conservation I noticed he was wearing a chain full of small and curious pendants. Looking at it closer, I suddenly noticed a beautiful small gold pendant in the shape of a Qur’an with Arabic inscriptions. […]

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Failures, and Singing in the Rain…

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

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

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

 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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