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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Gold, lacquer and mirrors: a figure of the Buddha from Burma

The mask was carved separately and then held in place with nails.

By Adriana Francescutto and Victor Borges, Sculpture Conservation. Here in the sculpture conservation studio, we have recently begun the treatment of an 18th to early 19th century standing figure of the Buddha. It came originally from the Kyaik Than Lan pagoda in Moulmein, Burma. It depicts the Buddha standing on a lotus bud, in a […]

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Slippery Sari Sagas and Delightful Draping

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Here in Textile Conservation we are just over half way through mounting the garments for display in The Fabric of India. A few weeks ago, our studio was all a-flurry with the unwrapping of mannequins and the speedy draping of a collection of stunning and vibrant contemporary saris for publication photography. That was by no […]

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Guest Post: Conservation Close-up

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Annika Amundson is a student placement in the V&A Textile Conservation Studio, a part of her MPhil course at the Centre for Textile Conservation, University of Glasgow. This week she tells us about the conservation of an embroidered child’s dress in preparation for its display in The Fabric of India. This child’s dress will be […]

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All that glitters is not gold – or is it?

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The golden surface of the sandal viewed with the microscope inbuilt in the XRF machine. The laser in the center of the cross hairs shows the exact spot analysed, which is 0.2 mm across

Science meets Shoes. Go behind the scene and find out what we do to our objects before they can go on display. This is the tale of the two Lucias, Lucia the research assistant and Lucia the scientist: together we reveal aspects of our job related to the forthcoming exhibition “Shoes – Pleasure and Pain”. […]

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Still painting like Constable

Palette knife effects in the sky © S.Connor

Humbled by my last feeble attempts at painting like Constable (here), I began work on a substantially scaled down version of Constable’s Full scale study for the Haywain. I prepared a small canvas by stretching commercially primed canvas – linen, with a white ground, that you can buy by the metre. I stretched it around […]

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Painting like Constable

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Having prepared some Constable style paper boards with Sophie Connor a little while back (read about it here), I faced the daunting prospect of trying to paint like Constable. To try to make this a bit easier I based my sketch on a painting by Constable that I had recently examined, Buildings on Rising Ground near […]

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Painting by Numbers?: An 18th Century Flower Show

Ferdinand Bauer, Iris Germanicus, watercolour on paper (MS. Sherard 245/70) © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford 2015

As the Chelsea Flower Show draws to a conclusion tomorrow, and the masses return to their own gardens inspired, it’s worth looking back to the 18th century, to the golden age of botanical exploration and to an artist who was arguably the finest botanical painter in history – Ferdinand Bauer –  and how expertise at […]

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

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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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