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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All that glitters (part 2) …. is most definitely not all gold!


A few weeks ago Rosemary posted a blog about Indian textiles which incorporate metal or metal wrapped threads (April 23, 2015). She was very careful not to mention what the metal was because we have been in the process of analysing the composition, so in this follow up post I will tell you what we […]

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Making a ‘Constable’

Applying the red-brown oil ground. You can already see how the paper is absorbing the oil where there is no sizing.

  This week I’ve been working with Clare, the Senior Paintings Conservator, to make some Constable-style pasteboards (sheets of paper glued together) for a display to go in the Paintings gallery. After several weeks of reading up on it (for example in the essays referenced here), looking at examples of Constable’s works on paper, and […]

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Dirt off your shoulder…

Close up on dust

One of the great challenges in museums is keeping the collection clean once it’s on display – dust & dirt are our number one enemy! This isn’t a new problem either, as far back as the mid 1800’s museum professionals have been worried about what the local environmental conditions were doing to their collections. Michael […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects. Part 2


The secret parcel and other discoveries from the Weston Cast Court. In my previous post I described some of the surprising items we found in the museum’s Medieval & Renaissance and British Sculpture galleries. The things that we found were type of messages from the past left by the people who worked in the museum […]

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Hello from the Conservation Team!


  We thought it was about time that we introduced ourselves properly and with a smile! So far we have been lurking behind the scenes, popping up in the occasional blog post photo most commonly with our frowning ‘problem-solving’ faces on, unaware we were going to feature in a future post! Conserving and preparing approximately […]

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17th Century Modern Materials


A while back I was given six small samples to analyse – nothing unusual about this till I looked at the images of the object that the samples had come from and immediately had grand notions of treasure hunting for the Holy Grail with Indiana Jones! These thoughts were soon followed by me humming ‘knights […]

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The Conservation of Marie Antoinette’s Chair

Armchair, before treatment with its 1970’s upholstery and blue paint

Zoe Allen, Senior Gilded Furniture and Frames Conservator Phil James, Technician, Technical Services This painted and gilded carved walnut chair is part of a suite of furniture made for Marie Antoinette’s Cabinet Particulier in the palace of Saint – Cloud outside of Paris. It was made by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (1748–1803) in 1788 and was painted […]

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Preparing the Damascus panels

cleaning test

In December, Mariam described our plans for a small display about the objects from the V&A’s Damascus Room. During the last month, we have been looking more closely at how we will prepare for display the decorated wooden panels that formed part of the room. Damascus interiors are to be found in at least 17 collections […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects. Part 1

And additional note with very important information regarding the cos of beer in 1948

One of the benefits of working in old buildings is that they often conceal secrets that are just waiting to be discovered. Before joining the V&A, I used to work at St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the world’s most iconic buildings and filled with glorious art. In the Cathedral’s crypt, I found a fascinating object […]

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When you don’t have the right tool for the job…

Brush after modification

…make one! I was working on removing dust from a theatre set model while the studio was quiet during the gap between Christmas and New Year. It was mostly straightforward, but there was one balcony that I just couldn’t get to with my straight brushes – every point of access I tried only allowed me […]

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