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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Beginnings…An Internship in the Conservation of Modern Materials

I suppose it’s best to begin at the beginning – My name is Mark Kearney and until a short time ago I was living the idyllic (yet unemployed) country life on the west coast of Ireland. That was until I moved over to London to start work at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I have been […]

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Bad Karma? Looking at Jain Paintings

I’m fascinated by the V&A’s collection of Jain paintings. Examining them closely, understanding how they were created is fascinating. The manuscripts were originally collected by the V&A for their visual appeal, rather than as religious documents. However, they are also of significant religious and cultural value to the Jain community. Mehool Sanghrajka, current Director of Education at the […]

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Flatpacked!

An army of curators and conservators have spent countless hours working on objects that will end up on display in the refurbished Europe 1600-1800 galleries later this year. One of the objects needing some attention is this table by David Roentgen. Before work could begin to clean and conserve the table, it was examined by […]

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Playing with dolls?

As part of my Heritage Lottery Fund/Institute of Conservation Internship at the V&A, I’ve been working with Furniture Conservation preparing ‘Small Stories: Dolls Houses and the History of the Home’ , an exhibition that opens at the Museum of Childhood later in the year. The V&A Museum of Childhood has a collection of around 100 […]

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Spicing things up!

One of the more unusual activities for us in the conservation department this week was to restore damage to Laurent Mareschal’s Jameel Prize installation ‘Beiti’. The curious fingers of a member of the public (undoubtedly interested in confirming that Mareschal’s intriguing tiled floor pattern was in fact made with spice and not ceramic tiles) had […]

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Definitely not ‘Point-and-Click': Photographing the Raphael Cartoons in 1858.

In one of the V&A’s stores, kept particularly cold to preserve them, are a collection of rather unusual photographic works that I have been intrigued by for some years. They are twelve collodion glass plate negatives made in 1858 by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816—1868), the V&A’s first photographer. These negatives were used to document the […]

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‘for I have too much preferred the picturesque to the beautifull…': Looking at Constable’s watercolour sketches

Whenever I’ve thought of John Constable, I’ve always thought of a long tradition, starting with Dutch landscape painters, a painter, where you could walk straight into the scene and join the horses wading through the river or sit under a bow of a tree and gaze at the view of Salisbury Cathedral.

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It’ll never last…. A Ferragamo patent shoe

Written by Sarah Glenn, Textile Conservator This Ferragamo ‘Vara’ pump shoe (T.91-1988) is going on display next year in The Glamour of Italian Fashion: 1945-2014. Ferragamo patent leather shoe © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Made of patent leather in 1986, it has never been worn and has a perspex last (most likely the original […]

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An Unknown Sketch by Constable

V&A Paintings Conservators Nicola Costaras and Clare Richardson have discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by John Constable in the V&A’s collection. The original sketch, ‘Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead’, had been glued to a canvas lining at some stage before it came into the V&A’s collection in 1888, completely obscuring the sketch on the other side. Suspecting that […]

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Play it Again SAM: Replicating Cybernetic Sculpture using 3D Printing

There are a number of examples of sculptures created in the 20th century using synthetic materials that have already degraded to a point where conservation is unfeasible (and sometimes even impossible). This can also be the case where where works have been made with electronic components that have become obsolete and impossible to replace. In these contexts, […]

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