July 1999 Issue 32
The Bullerswood carpet, designed by William Morris and woven by Morris & Co, Hammersmith, UK, circa 1880 (Museum No. T31 - 1923) is one of the objects going on display in the V&A's new British Galleries, opening 2003. The carpet has rarely been displayed and is still very rich in colour. However, due to its size it will be rolled to display half.
Work to examine the light fastness of various areas on the Bullerswood carpet will commence shortly. Selected areas on the reverse will be exposed to intense illumination (30000 lux from a UV filtered tungsten-halogen source) and the resulting changes in spectral reflectance monitored. Reflectance data are converted to colour co-ordinates to determine colour changes. The findings and their influence on decisions affecting display will be published.
Interest in the degradation and preservation of objects made from synthetic polymers has increased dramatically over the last few years. The Historical Plastics Research Scientists' Group (HPRSG) meets several times a year to discuss work carried out in this field. The Group's co-ordinator is Anita Quye of the National Museums of Scotland and the assistant co-ordinator is Brenda Keneghan of the V&A. Although there is not, as yet, a definitive textbook dealing with this area, there are a number of sources of information worth listing:
- 1. Saving the Twentieth Century: The Conservation of Modern Materials: the proceedings of a conference held in Ottawa in 1991, published by the Canadian Conservation Institute.
- 2. Ours for Keeps?: a resource pack produced by the Museums & Galleries Commission containing a chapter on Twentieth Century Materials and a specific chapter on plastic dolls.
Following on from the very successful Classic Plastics Clinic held in 1997, the National Museums of Scotland have produced a book on the collection and care of historical plastics. The book contains contributions from the members of the HPRSG and the expected publication date is autumn of 1999.
On the 21 April 1999 a whole day was dedicated to communicating the message of 'how important display cases are' to a professionally diverse audience in Florence, Italy. The workshop, 'LA VETRINA PER IL MUSEO caratteristiche e requisiti di funzione', was hosted by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure with their superintendent, Giorgio Bonsanti opening the session.
The aim of the workshop was to demonstrate the rudiments for the best assessment, application and optimisation of display case performance to museum personnel, public and private bodies. The presentations looked at each of the key areas of a display case in turn: assessing performance, pollutant levels, cleaning materials, construction materials, lighting, and monitoring equipment and methods. The workshop proved highly successful, attracting a large number of participants from Italy, Monaco, Geneva and the UK. The size of the audience would seem to indicate that there is a need for more of these international exchanges.
Postprints, including the V&A contribution, will be published in Italian and English later this year by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.