Let’s blog about conservation!

In previous blog posts you’ve had a taster of how we manage conservation at the Museum, but there’s much more to come…

But before we get carried away with our fantastic objects and treatments, let’s answer that fundamental question: what is conservation?

Cleaning of Hastings & St Leonards Gas Co seal (ScM, London, 2008)

The National Trust sums up conservation nicely as ‘the careful management of change’.

The objects in our collection are often acquired for their historical significance. They tell us a story, and we aim to maintain the condition of the objects so that their story will never be lost.

That is why we don’t ‘restore’ things to look brand new. The marks on that piece of wood can tell us how it was manufactured, and wear on that prosthetic limb can tell us how it was used.

I feel archaeologists are often mistaken for conservators, and I am fully prepared to don my brown Stetson fedora and be Indiana Jones… but really Indy, you shouldn’t just grab that sacred relic with your un-gloved hand and shove it in your back pocket!

I recently found an alternative role-model when I discovered that Agatha Christie, one of my all time heroes, was a makeshift conservator.

Working with her second husband Max Mallowan out on archaeological digs she was involved in ‘removing dirt from the relics (she used facial cleanser)’.

I digress - let’s get back to the point. We in the conservation department hope that by caring for the objects, ‘their special qualities are protected, enhanced, enjoyed and understood by present and future generations’.

So stay tuned for conservation blogs on all sorts of exciting projects taking place behind the scenes! Catch you later…

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