Conservation Journal

The Conservation Journal aims to provide an overview of the day-to-day activities of the Conservation Department, reflecting our role within, and beyond, the Museum. With contributions from all sections in the Department, featured articles will have an emphasis on practical conservation, research, communication, training and education, and changes and developments in practice/policy.

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The Spirit of Gaiety, Guardian of the Gaiety Theatre

Figure 2. Installation of the angel at the V&A, 2010

Zoe Allen, Head of Furniture Conservation Yukiko Yoshii Barrow, Frame and Furniture Conservator  The carved and gilded Spirit of Gaiety  angel (S.2630-1986) was made by the sculptor Hibbert C Binny in 1904 to stand on top of the dome of the second Gaiety Theatre in London, which formerly stood at the junction of Aldwych and […]

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It’s in the Stars – the Conservation of a Celestial Globe

Figure 4. Conservation complete

Susan Catcher, Senior Paper Conservator Zoe Allen, Head of Furniture Conservation The celestial globe (W.52-1916) is an 18” (46cm) globe and is one of a pair, the other being a terrestrial globe (W.52a-1916). They were made by the London-based Bardin family of globe makers who began globe production in the 1780s, and from 1799 manufactured […]

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Red-Dyed Gold from Southeast Asia

Luminescence on IS.246A-1964. Presented by the Government of Burma in generous recognition of the Victoria and Albert Museum's safekeeping of the Mandalay Regalia (1886 to 1964).

Emma Burdon, MA Student, Courtauld Institute of Art In the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, there are eleven gold objects that are described as being coloured red using tamarind. They originate from Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, and are thought to have been made during the nineteenth century. The Burmese objects are as follows: […]

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Conservation of a Christmas Cracker

‘Totem Cracker’ after treatment, showing the stabilised orange gelatine film and reshaped ends

Alice Woodward, MA Student, University of Northumbria Paper conservators usually work on flat works, but in some cases are presented with the challenges of conserving three-dimensional objects comprised of mixed materials. This article focuses on the conservation of a rather unusual three-dimensional object – a Christmas cracker from 1927 (S.26-2007), in preparation for a Christmas […]

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Technical examination and conservation of a reverse glass painting by Thomas Gainsborough

Wooded Moonlight Landscape with Pool and Figure at the Door of a Cottage (P.33-1955) Thomas Gainsborough, 1781-82

Marine Andrieux Student Placement, Paintings Conservation ‘Wooded Moonlight Landscape with Pool and Figure at the Door of a Cottage’ (P.33-1955) was painted on a 31 x 37 cm sheet of glass by Thomas Gainsborough in 1781-2 (Figure 1). This oil transparency is part of a series of 10 reverse glass paintings created by the artist […]

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Challenges of treating a Mosquito drop tank

Janna Mostert and Nigel Bamforth adhering Reemay with hide glue

Dr Nigel Bamforth, Senior Furniture Conservator Janna Mostert, Furniture Intern In preparation for the ‘Plywood: Material of the Modern World’ exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Furniture and Wood Conservation Studio treated an auxiliary aviation ‘drop’ tank, a supplementary fuel tank carried by aircraft, loaned by the de Havilland Aircraft Museum for display […]

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Mattering: Richard Redgrave and the curious practice of drawing on museum objects

Detail of Condition Report: encountering the museum-object, Simon Fleury, 2016.

Simon Fleury, Senior Preservation Conservator ‘Delicate things become objects late on: That is what they have in common with numerous seemingly self-evident things that only mature to the point of conspicuity once they are lost.’1 Richard Redgrave, the first curator of the South Kensington Museum (SKM) as the Victoria & Albert Museum was then known, […]

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Lustrous Surfaces collaborative conservation project

Mr Yang working on mother-of-pearl replacements

Dana Melchar, Senior Furniture Conservator Currently, the Victoria & Albert Museum is preparing for an exciting display opening on 1 October 2017 entitled ‘Lustrous Surfaces: Lacquer in Asia and Beyond’. The display will focus on Asian lacquer and lacquer-inspired European objects within our permanent collection and will include objects made in Burma, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, […]

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Back to the Future: revisiting Richard Redgrave’s condition reports

Figure 3. The case and van transporting the Raphael Cartoons from Hampton Court to South Kensington in May 1865 (Museum No. 44413)

Clair Battisson, Senior Preservation Conservator Louise Egan, Condition Report Liaison There have been several previous articles and comment made on what is thought to have been an early use of a photographic image in checking and monitoring the condition of an object at the Victoria & Albert Museum (formerly known as the South Kensington Museum). […]

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Clothworkers’ Fellowship

The author examining carpets in store at Blythe House

Frances Hartog, Senior Textile Conservator In the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection there is a core of 124 carpets that were on semi-open display for several decades in the Textile Study galleries. Many have a grey cast of surface soiling commonly found on textiles that have been exhibited uncased for several years and will require […]

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