Congratulations to Conservation Science team

Conservation & Collections Management
January 6, 2021

The Museum is delighted to congratulate three members of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Conservation Science Section. Dr Lucia Burgio, the V&A’s Senior Scientist (Object Analysis), received the award of the 2019 Royal Society of Chemists Theobald Lectureship for her significant contribution to analytical chemistry. The lecture was delivered during an afternoon dedicated to heritage science at the V&A’s Hochhauser Auditorium on the 17 February 2020 to a packed audience, and covered Lucia’s role in examining and analysing objects in the V&A’s collections – highlighting some discoveries along the way. Lucia also chairs the Heritage Science Expert Working Group under the Analytical Methods Committee and Analytical Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Lucia’s work to produce and promote Technical Briefs has been a real benefit to people with an interest in cultural heritage, producing accessible information about the scientific techniques available for researching collections.

Figure 1. Dr Lucia Burgio receiving her award from Professor Jim Miller, Chair of the Analytical Methods Trust © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Other presentations during the same event discussed environmental monitoring, the use of FORS (fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy) for the identification of artists’ materials, and some addressed the challenges involved in preserving modern materials such as plastics. The day was organised as a collaboration between the V&A Research Institute and the RSC’s Analytical Methods Committee and the Analytical Methods Trust.

Dr Brenda Keneghan, Senior Polymer Scientist, received a lifetime contribution award at the FutureTalks meeting in recognition of her impact on plastics research in heritage collections. Brenda has brought awareness to museums about the use of plastics by artists, designers and manufacturers, coining the term ‘plastics denial syndrome’ (‘Plastics? Not in My Collection’), and researching the upcoming emergency of how to preserve plastics in museum collections within the EU funded ‘Popart project’. Brenda retired in May after working in the Museum for the past 27 years.

Finally, congratulations to Valerie Blyth, Senior Preventive Conservator, who after working at the V&A for 32 years retired in September. Val was instrumental in promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) throughout the Museum by keeping hungry insects away from edible museum objects. One of the highlights of Val’s career was to localise the name of the brown carpet beetle Attagenus Smirnovi as the ‘vodka beetle’, a name now used throughout the museum world.

Brenda and Val will be sorely missed at the V&A and their contributions have been greatly appreciated. Please forward any messages to the Science team at

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