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Posts tagged with 'conservation'

England expects

6 September 2011 by Sam

detail of a hand written message 'England expects that every man will do his duty'

Here’s a brain teaser for eagle-eyed people who know our collections well. Today I had the opportunity to see something that I’m very familiar with in unusual circumstances. Can you guess what it is from the detail above?

Here’s a clue – it fits in quite well with the theme of a certain big festival down on the waterfront that starts later this week. All will be revealed in a few days…

Conservation Interns Visit NML

25 August 2011 by Eleanor

Interns outside the new museum of liverpool

Interns outside the Museum of Liverpool

On Tuesday 23 August interns funded through the Icon-HLF scheme travelled from far and wide to attend a visit to National Museums Liverpool’s (NML’s) conservation studios.  There are three current conservation interns at NML funded through the Icon-HLF scheme. Gemma Thorns and Robin Gibson are undertaking Internships in Ships and Historic Models Conservation, and myself; Ellie Baumber, is undertaking an Internship in Objects Conservation and Public Engagement.  We arranged the visit to provide fellow interns with the opportunity to see some of the fantastic projects that we have been working on during our time at NML. Read more…


7 July 2011 by Eleanor

Telescopic handheld fan

 Chinese Export Hand-held Fan

National Museums Liverpool’s conservation studios have been a hive of activity over the past few months, as conservators have been busy preparing objects for the new Museum of Liverpool, which opens in just 12 days’ time. 

Recently I have been lucky enough to conserve a number of handheld fans which will be exhibited in the new museum’s Global City gallery.  When I found out that I would be conserving fans, I expected to encounter paper and perhaps some plastic or wooden sticks, but I was in for a much bigger treat!  Lacquer, ivory, tortoiseshell, silk, feathers, gold pigment and mother of pearl were just some of the materials that I came across.  Read more…

Beastly Goings-On

11 March 2011 by Eleanor

Have you ever wondered what could be eating our museum collections?
Although this might seem like a strange question, all kinds of organic materials such as leather, paper, wood and even textiles provide a feast for a variety of troublesome insects!  At the National Conservation Centre we have a range of high-powered microscopes which allow us to look up close at many of these beastly bugs. 
Insects such as the clothes moth, seen in the image below, lay their eggs on natural fibres such as wool.  When the clothes moth’s eggs hatch into larvae, they feed upon the wool fibres and can cause tremendous damage.  Many other insects would also happily munch or bore their way through all kinds of museum objects if left to their own devices!
Why not come down to the Clore Natural History Centre in World Museum next Tuesday 15th March, 2.15pm-4.15pm to find out more.  Two of National Museums Liverpool’s conservators will be presenting a series of microscope images and specimens of the curious creepy crawlies that munch on museum objects. Will you be able to guess which bugs do the damage? Read more…

The Perks of Conserving a Wall Sconce

28 January 2011 by Eleanor

Now that I have completed the first quarter of my ICON and Heritage Lottery Funded internship in Objects Conservation and Public Engagement at the National Conservation Centre, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite bits so far! 

Last October I started conserving a nineteenth century ceramic Wall Sconce.  “Wall Sconce?”  I hear you cry?  . . . A wall sconce is usually a bracket, or in this case a decorative ceramic plate with candle holders, which would have once been fixed to a wall to provide indoor lighting.  They must have been a very useful item before the invention of the electric light-bulb.  I have to say that when I first saw the Sconce, covered with bright and colourful floral designs, it certainly wasn’t to my taste!  But nevertheless my duty of care and curiosity quickly dismissed my initial dislike of the sickly design, and with the help of the Ceramics and Glass Conservator at the National Conservation Centre I began proposing a conservation treatment plan.  The plan was to carefully clean away thick black surface dirt which covered the ceramic surface and also to create a removable plaster fill, to complete a large v-shaped chip which was missing from one of the Sconce’s candle holders.  Read more…

End of an Era . . . and the Start of Something New

22 December 2010 by Eleanor

Last Friday was a sad day at the National Conservation Centre as the doors closed to visitors for the last time.  However, yesterday brought with it a silver lining, as we relocated our conservation themed event ‘Crystal Magic’ over to the Clore Natural History Centre at World Museum.

The event was buzzing and despite the icy conditions outside, over seventy people attended the afternoon event.  ‘Salty’ our magical crystal growing snowman stole the show, as he busied away growing snow-like crystals.  He even let us borrow a few to look at more closely.  With our video microscope having also made the transition from the National Conservation Centre over to World Museum, we were able to examine crystals up close and discovered all kinds of beautiful colours, shapes and patterns. Read more…

The end of an era

17 December 2010 by Sam

interior showing Cafe Eros and motorbike on display

Way back in the early 1990s when I was an architecture student I went on a site visit to the shell of a building that had been the Midland Goods Depot in a past life. I was fascinated to hear how it was being converted into an innovative Conservation Centre for the museums, with every studio inside specially set up for the particular needs of conservators specialising in different materials.

A couple of years later – having abandoned a career in architecture in favour of art history – I started work at the Walker Art Gallery. The paintings conservators were based there at the time (in rooms which later became part of the exhibition galleries) and I got to know them over many cups of coffee in the staff room. I did miss them when they moved into the new building but was excited to see their impressive new studio.

Not long afterwards the National Conservation Centre opened to the public to great acclaim. It was ground breaking in focusing on the essential behind-the-scenes work of conservators that people would never normally see. This included everything from the cutting edge use of lasers by Conservation Technologies to traditional skills used to conserve objects such as the Lutyens cathedral model.

The Centre also built up a great reputation as a venue for photography exhibitions. I’ve particularly enjoyed the glimpses of the city’s past in exhibitions from Stephen Shakeshaft, Philip Jones Griffiths, Bernard Fallon and the fantastic Stewart Bale collection.

With all these great memories I can’t help feeling sad that the National Conservation Centre will close to visitors today, it really is the end of an era.

Behind the scenes the work of the conservators is, of course, continuing – they’re rather busy at the moment preparing displays for the Museum of Liverpool. You can read about the work they do on the website and see special in-depth features about the research they carry out, such the surprising discovery about the past of a painting of St Michael from the Lady Lever.

There will also be special conservation-themed events at our other venues, starting with a look at Crystal magic at World Museum next week, with more to follow, so do keep an eye out for them. Read more…

Object Detectives

19 November 2010 by Eleanor

My name is Ellie and I am a new addition at the National Conservation Centre in Liverpool.  I am here on a year long internship in Objects Conservation and Public Engagement, funded by ICON (Institute of Conservation) and the Heritage Lottery Fund

While I am here I will post regular updates on the blog to provide a glimpse of what is happening behind-the-scenes at the National Conservation Centre, as conservators look after and investigate fascinating objects from the collection. Read more…

Art Merseywide showcases local talent

22 September 2010 by Sam

people discussing paintings on a gallery wall

Olwen McLaughlin, Editions Gallery, Liverpool, Louise Hesketh (Halton) and Chris Kerfoot (National Museums Liverpool) selecting works at the Wirral Spring exhibition, Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead

While the Biennial attract artists from all over the world to exhibit in Liverpool, the next exhibition to open at the National Conservation Centre on Friday, Art Merseywide, gives talented local artists the opportunity to show their work. With artworks selected from open exhibitions held in Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral over the last year, Art Merseywide gives what exhibition organiser Louise Hesketh, of the Brindley Theatre and Arts Centre in Runcorn, describes as “a candid snapshot of the thriving local art scene”. Read more…

Last Lewis’s Event this Sunday

27 August 2010 by Lucy

From tomorrow, there are only three full days left for you to visit the National Conservation Centre’s popular exhibition Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story.

The hair salon on the fifth floor

This image of the hair salon on the fifth floor is in Stephen King’s exhibition. Image (c) Stephen King.

This exhibition by Liverpool photographer Stephen King has been a real success, having received over 37,000 visitors since it opened in February.

Sadly, the store closed at the end of May, but it’s been lovely to see so many people coming to the exhibition to relive memories of the fifth floor and often uncover its hidden secrets for the first time, unaware that this closed floor ever existed. Read more…

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