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Posts tagged with 'conservation'

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…

Another chance to x-ray your toys

24 August 2010 by Sam

visitors looking at x-ray images on a computer screen

If like me you are curious about what’s inside your treasured posessions and how they work – but not curious enough to break them in order to find out – then you need to go to the X-Ray your toys session at the National Conservation Centre tomorrow afternoon.

I popped along to the last session with my trusty Rubik’s cube, which conservator David Crombie x-rayed from a couple of different angles in order to reveal the clever way that the pieces are held together but can still be moved round into all sorts of colourful combinations. Read more…

Free Talk – Forgotten Murals

16 August 2010 by Lucy

The well-loved icon of Liverpool department stores Lewis’s, sadly closed its doors for the last time at the end of May. Prior to that for around the last 30 years the store was mainly recognised for its shopping culture, but until the early 1980s it was much more than a place where you might buy a dress or new handbag.

Before the 80s the store also offered three restaurants and what was at one time the world’s largest hair salon on the fifth floor, until it was closed to the public in the 80s and used as a storage floor ever since. Read more…

X-ray your toys in our lab!

29 July 2010 by Sam

x-ray image showing the outlines of a set of figures, one inside the other

X-ray of a set of Russian dolls

Have you ever wondered what’s inside a Rubik’s cube – or any other toys? This Friday staff at the National Conservation Centre will be hosting an ‘X-ray your toy’ event, as a fun way to show children how we use science to examine our collections. The X-ray equipment includes a digital X-ray reader, and is used by conservators to look beneath the surface of paintings, or inside corroded lumps of archaeological iron.

We’re inviting children of all ages to bring along a favourite toy, and we’ve already booked in a Transformer, a toy calculator, a pair of Ben 10 walkie-talkies, and a Pixel Chicks game, alongside the Rubik’s cube. Watch this space for a gallery of unusual X-ray images – and you can see some toys that we’ve already x-rayed on Flickr.

The X-ray your toy event will be taking place 12.30-3.30pm on Friday 30 July, in the Reveal gallery at the National Conservation Centre. If you miss this, there’s another chance at the same time on Wednesday 25 August. Full details of all our events and activities are on the website. Read more…

Funding for trainee development

17 June 2010 by Lynn

Rose Hardman reports on funding that will enable fantastic new opportunities for conservation trainees.


Heritage lottery fund

We were delighted to receive the news recently that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £350,700 to help National Museums Liverpool and the North West Fed deliver training opportunities for 12 Positive Action Trainees.

The money, awarded under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme, will give trainees a chance to learn about heritage conservation and audience development.

National Museums Liverpool’s six trainees will spend two years looking at conservation techniques with the Institute of Conservation as a key partner. We will begin advertising for placements at National Museums Liverpool in 2012. Read more…