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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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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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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