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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Dye analysis of the psychedelic Leman silk

As promised in my previous blog, it’s time to show you what very sophisticated scientific analysis techniques (and the even more sophisticated brains of the scientists using them) can reveal about our Leman objects. The V&A has a small team of scientists who deliver expert advice and services to the Museum, and take care of […]

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The psychedelic Leman silk

Figure 2 - the Leman textile and the corresponding design next to one another

  Serendipity is a wonderful concept: it applies very clearly to the Leman Album, which has been discussed before in many other blog entries. We had already started our multidisciplinary investigation of the Album, when a length of brocaded silk, clearly made from one of the Leman designs we own, was offered for sale to […]

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Guest Post: The restoration of Michelangelo’s David and the interventions by Clemente Papi

Fig 2. Hypothetical virtual reconstruction of the gilding on the David in 1504 (digital elaboration by Artmedia Studio, Florence). Image courtesy of the Artmedia Studio, Florence.

Franca Falletti is the Former Director of Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence The Granduke of Tuscany commissioned from Clemente Papi a plaster mould and a copy of the sculpture of the David by Michelangelo, on 29 August 1846.[1] Soon afterwards, Papi also made a wax mould in preparation for a bronze copy of the statue, because he […]

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Blythe House Decant Updates : Audits and Rehousing

Lace: The story so far . . . It’s been over 6 months since my last decant blog and a lot of things have changed at Blythe House. Projects have started to increase, teams are growing and general decant plans are moving forward. One project that I’d like to share with you is the Lace Rehousing Project. […]

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Guest Post: ‘Castaway!’ – David washed ashore in the antipodes

David’s eye. NAS Drawing Department cast.

Lorraine Kypiotis is a lecturer in Art History and Theory at National Art School in Sydney To view the remnants of the facial features of Michelangelo’s David at the National Art School in Sydney is somewhat like considering the curious pieces of flotsam and jetsam washed ashore after a tropical storm. They are, in so many […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects – Part 3

Package of Hudson's extract of soap found inside one of the monumental casts in gallery 46 A. Image, J. Puisto © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The secrets in the Cast Courts One of the joys of working in the Cast Courts at the V&A, is the opportunity to examine the casts up-close. Surprisingly many of them conceal peculiar items which have been hidden inside them for a very long time. The items we find consist of, fragments of cleaning materials, […]

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Guest Post: Part 2 – David’s journey from Florence to V&A

Plaster cast of Michelangelo's David (Mus. No. REPRO. 161-1857) at the V&A. Image, Giuseppe Rizzo.

Giuseppe Rizzo is an art historian with a specialism on the life and works of Clemente Papi. Giuseppe works at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Although there are many copies of Michelangelo’s David in museums around the world, the full-size-replica exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum should be considered as ‘unique’. The cast was […]

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Guest Post: Part 1 – Clemente Papi: From plaster maker to Royal Bronze Founder

The Chapel, Petits St. Augustins, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris (Photo: @ EDBA n. 40445).

Giuseppe Rizzo is an art historian with a specialism on the life and works of Clemente Papi. Giuseppe works at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The history of the first copies of Michelangelo’s David are linked to the cast maker Clemente Papi (1803-1875), who, over the course of his career, made three life-size reproductions of […]

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Conservation of a Romanesque Lintel Cast

Repro.1902-17 in a former installation at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

During my last year of the MSc in objects conservation at University College London, I am fortunate to have been granted a placement in the sculpture conservation studio at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to fulfil the practical portion of my training. Last September, I became involved in the conservation of the V&A plaster […]

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Should a preconceived format dictate an outcome? I have always been a strong advocate of retaining albums in their original format and strongly oppose pulling them (the act of breaking down a bound format to its constituent parts of covers and sections) – after all I don’t want to put myself out of a job […]

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