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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Ocean Liners: Creating Life on Board

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style installation: ‘The Pool’

Lilia Prier Tisdall Textile Conservation Display Specialist   The list of costumes to be mounted for the exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style seemed relatively small at 20 ensembles in comparison to some of our main shows, which can feature upwards of 200 textiles. Small, however, certainly does not mean straightforward; it was clear from […]

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Salted Paper Prints: their past, present and future

Portrait of a patient, Surrey County Asylum (RPS. 2966-2017)

  Lauren Ashley-Irvine Conservator of Photographs and Paper   The Victoria and Albert Museum is the custodian of one of the world’s largest collections of photography. The recent addition of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection of 270,000 photographs includes numerous salted paper prints (Figure 1). The salted print process was a revolutionary, direct, negative […]

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Hwagak: the brilliant horn technique

Clamping during the consolidation of the lifting horn

Tristram Bainbridge Furniture Conservator   A brightly-coloured Korean lidded box, made in the nineteenth century from reverse-painted horn in the late Choson dynasty (1392-1910), was treated for the Lustrous Surfaces display: a cross-cultural showcase of Asian lacquer throughout the Museum (Figure 1). Small panels of ox horn were painted on the reverse and adhered to […]

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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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