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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Making paper

Boiling the mulberry fibres

As a bonus we were able to spend a day at Jang Ji Bang (Jang’s Paper Room) where Jang Youn Hoon showed us the whole process of making paper from the mulberry fibres grown on his land.  This process, where the fibres are boiled, hand cleaned, beaten to a pulp and cast on a bamboo […]

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Paper, paper

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Arrived in foggy Seoul but at least the temperature is more comfortable than Hong Kong. Straight to Kwang -Young Chun’s house where we contrasted the method of dying paper with natural plant dyes to achieve a bright and relatively stable palette. What a beautiful place set in the hills and surrounded by trees and very noisy […]

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Mini Post No. 9 – Sometimes we get things wrong!

The Darwin image under the XRF machine head. (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Let me begin with a little confession – while we like to think of ourselves as immune to them, sometimes we make silly mistakes. This happened most recently when we began the XRF analysis of some Julia Margaret Cameron photographs to see if the images had been tinted with other elements like gold. Many of […]

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Spot the Dog

Microscope image of Constable's dog

Visitors to the Constable: The Making of a Master exhibition will be able to see a number of extraordinary copies painted by Constable alongside the original Old Master paintings that inspired him. His paintings after Jacob van Ruisdael’s (c.1629-1682)  Landscape with Windmills near Haarlem and Winter  are so similar to the originals that it is […]

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Steamy Hong Kong

contemporary exhibition of traditional seating

Well here we are in Hong Kong and am now feeling as if I am in a sauna. The weather is steamy to say the least, due to the latest typhoon expected to arrive in the next couple of days. The Bruce Lee exhibition held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, below, and the stool […]

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Constable’s Quill

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Did Constable use a steel nibbed pen? a reed, or a quill for his ink drawings? Sometimes, preparing the prints, drawings and paintings for an exhibition gives us a good opportunity to start to ponder these kinds of questions… Looking at the back of Constable’s Study of Poppies (Paintings Conservation interns, Arabella and Morgan talked about this work in our […]

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Nanjing here I come!

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Well the Chinese visa has been obtained, eventually, and all flights/accommodation booked. I am off on Friday 19th September. So, who am I? I am Susan Catcher, Senior Paper Conservator at the museum and have been lucky enough to been given money (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and the Anna Plowden Trust) to complete a trip to attend the IIC Conference […]

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Mini Post No.8 – Ghosts of Logos past

One of the 1st Laptops used in the conservation science section of the museum - A Toshiba t1600

As part of my internship I have been repeating and expanding on some of the experiments into cleaning that they did during the POPART project. One part has been repeating experiments on real-world objects that have a surface texture – more on that in a later post though! The unusual object I’ve been using to […]

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Conservation of a Vionnet Dress: Treatment begins…

The dress in textile conservation before any investigation.

The dress appears much dirtier in the bright conservation studio than in the dark store!  The first stage of any garment treatment is to assess the object thoroughly: by looking carefully, taking photographs and taking patterns and measurements.  A detailed treatment plan can then be formed.  Any testing and material identification can be carried out at this stage, […]

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Tartan: Its Journey Through the African Diaspora

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Our  Collaboration The exhibition ‘Tartan: Its Journey through the African Diaspora’, opened with a BANG last Monday 4th August 2014 at Craft Central Gallery in Farringdon, London. Colourful Caribbean dancers, Caribbean and African musicians and a superb Scottish piper celebrated the exhibition opening in a most stupendous fashion. Sun and rum welcomed the guests, as did Designer Laura […]

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