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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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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Mini post No. 10 – How to scare the intern…


Though my university training and this internship I have come accustomed to handling museum objects, and for the most part I’m perfectly comfortable doing this – except when it comes to the ceramics study galleries. I’ve always loved those new galleries but they have always scared me a little – something about densely packed fragile […]

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Guest Post: Plaster cast of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

Fig.1. The plaster cast of Michelangelo's David in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Inv. II.2.в 424)

In the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow there is an identical “cousin” of the V&A’s plaster cast of “David” by Michelangelo. The story of the David cast from Moscow is remarkable as is the history of the whole museum collection. The Pushkin Museum was originally conceived as a museum mostly for students of […]

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Raspberry Pi Project – 1st video


Last July I wrote about our project using a raspberry pi and its camera module to track the decay of a plastic handbag. The project has been running for about 4 months now and we complied the first video not so long ago. To be honest we were more than a little nervous about this […]

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David revealed!

David's left eye

One of the most significant works of art in the Victoria and Albert Museum is the plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David (Repro.1856-161) by Clemente Papi (1803-1875). David has recently received an enormous amount of worldwide media attention around the removal of the protective shroud that he has worn while the Cast Courts have been renovated. […]

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Exploratory surgery on the cast of Michelangelo’s David

The cast of Michelangelo’s David, REPRO.1857-161, showing sampling locations

Being Italian, I always felt secretly chuffed when I passed by the V&A Cast Courts and saw the plaster replica of Michelangelo’s David standing there: who better than him could watch over other reproductions of medieval and Renaissance masterpieces from the Bel Paese? Imagine then how thrilled I was when I was asked to perform […]

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Time to shop


It is very difficult to buy good quality Chinese xuan paper and mounting silk in the UK. So whilst here in Nanjing I am off on a shopping expedition. Xuan paper is sold by the Chinese foot (bigger than the old English foot), and the usual sizes are 4, 5 and 6 feet. Even in […]

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Ink rubbings are easy, apparently

Inking up

Part of the reason for going to Nanjing was to learn how to take an ink rubbing. Luckily Master Yu, my teacher, is also able to show me the technique. ‘It is easy’, he says.  So we begin by making our paizi (dabbers). One male and one female. These are constructed from soft old cotton fabric, […]

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