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Guest feature by a visiting colleague

27 March 2009 by Sam

Eleanor Beyer, an art historian from the British Museum‘s conservation and science department has been visiting the National Conservation Centre and working with Nicky Lewis in the paper conservation department. Here’s a review that she has very kindly written about her impressions of our facilities.


woman wearing lab coat and gloves working on a large negative

Nicky Lewis at work in the paper conservation studio

“I was excited to be given a tour of the National Conservation Centre by conservation mount cutter Nicky Lewis as it is fascinating to learn more about what takes place behind the scenes. I was looking forward to hearing about the day to day dramas which unfold in the conservation world, for example, how millions of tiny pieces of ceramic might be carefully pieced together to reconstruct a smashed museum object.

Though I did not see this aspect, I did learn more about how National Museums Liverpool’s collections are preserved and cleaned for presentation to the public. The centre deals with an extremely varied collection from ceramics, paintings, prints and drawings, sculptures and other objects, very much like the British Museum’s collections and conservation sections.

The mounting studio has up to the minute equipment which will be used in the coming months, for instance to supply mounts for the new displays at Liverpool’s docks. In the painting studio, several paintings were being cleaned and conserved, for example the ‘Virgin and Child in a landscape’ by Luca Signorelli (or his nephew) where large parts were now exposed revealing original painting, and some later additions which are still be cleaned away.

The new centre with its airy light well equipped spaces provides an excellent facility for taking care of the collections, and even better you can get an idea of the work which goes on by visiting the Reveal gallery.”

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