Dismantling the ceiling Victor Borges: The museum has a tremendous Italian Medieval and Renaissance collection. At the moment we are working on one of the biggest scale objects - in this case a fresco painting that originally was in a building in Cremona. The fresco painting was removed from the wall and attached to a wooden structure so it could be transported and installed in a new venue as in this case the V&A. So the first step was to remove the ceiling from its gallery where it was installed. That implied many different challenges. One of the challenges was to deal with the structure of the wall painting - it was quite complex to dismantle the wall painting in its different parts. And the other challenge was to protect the wall painting and be able to complete the whole operation without damaging the painting itself. One of the first steps was to look closely at the surface of the wall painting and diagnose the different alterations and the different problems that the painting would be suffering in situ. And we start thinking about the consolidation of the surface and then preparation of the surface towards de-installation. Well that involves protecting the surface mainly, which for that we decided to use a method using Japanese tissue with a specific kind of facing material consolidant.
Protection of the ceiling Victor Borges: Some solvents did affect the surface so we had to think of other options and finally we decided to use a material that is basically a mixture of resin and paraffin that could be easily removed with white spirit - and white spirit doesn't affect, doesn't disturb the surface of the painting. The process of applying this tissue, was, once we found the method, was laborious because you have to cut the different parts of the different pieces of tissue by hand to avoid having very sharp edges which can leave marks on the painting - and then applying it with a brush. It took our whole team and we took probably around two weeks to complete the facing of the whole surface of the painting.
Reinstallation of the ceiling Jonathan Kemp: This object, the frame that you see is probably from the 19th century as the original stucco of which the fresco is made from is a two-part lime stucco, relined when it was removed and brought to the museum - relined with gypsum and chicken wire and this wooden structure, which, when we came to de-install it last August, we didn't worry about whether we should be screwing directly our fixings, our pulley system that my colleague Phil James devised for its removal and subsequent re-installation. The framework itself has a lot of fixings from the previous installations. And we decided, well, in fact, practically we had to use this framework because there was no other, there was nothing else that you could secure to - clamping mechanisms would have been too laborious and probably impractical. So we have used it and it's worked well. And we'll remove our fixings from our installation and leave those other iron fixings on.
Phil James: We had to devise methods to dismantle it and transport it for storage and conservation unti it was re-installed here. So esentially we've followed the methods we used for de-installing it in reverse, which has worked efficiently and considering the stage it's at now, has gone really surprisingly quickly. But then I think that's because we had the confidence in that we'd gained in the de-installation in handling the parts now and understanding how the construction worked and how we could handle each part to get it in position and move it to make it fit with the next one. The most difficult part actually I think is getting the roundel in, because we're not sure exactly how or where it's going to fit best, and the museum want's to change it's position because there's a different understanding about its historical context in the ceiling. The next stage in the process, once we've got the roundel in, will be to have sections made for the frame so they can all be bolted ridgedly together. Then we can have the scaffold taken away, the ceiling will self-support, and once it's suspended from the four points on the ceiling from the sides of the frame, then the supports can come out from underneath.
Removal of the tissue protection Victor Borges: Right now we are at the stage when the wall paintings are all to be installed again in the new space in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. So what we are doing right now is precisely to remove this protective layer of tissue and for that we are basically just using white spirit. So what we are trying here is to reactivate again this mixture of resin and paraffin that we applied through the tissue that is fixing the tissue in place. The white spirit is dissolving this resin and is allowing us to remove the tissue again.
Filling joints and losses [No commentary: The conservation team is shown filling and colouring the joints and losses on the ceiling]
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