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The Young Professionals Forum will now be run as a purely digital event, completely free to participate (no fee is required). YPF aims to create a space of sharing, open to comparison and innovation through the circulation of ideas and good practices, with the hope of strengthening the connection between institutions and professionals who are engaged in different ways in the conservation of cultural heritage. The YPF will be structured in 4 sessions, each one focused on a crucial issue for the conservation and transmission of cultural heritage. Research institutes of international importance (IIC, CNR, ICOM and University of Turin) will be involved as moderators, Scientific Committee and jury. The four sessions’ subjects will be: 1. Conservation ethics and practice 2. Diagnostics and technologies applied to conservation 3. Museum professions 4. History of conservation For each session a prize of 1,000 € will also be awarded to the most significant contribution in terms of quality of content, originality and effectiveness of communication. All selected candidates will have the opportunity to publish an article about their project in the 2020 Forum proceedings. CALL FOR ABSTRACTS DEADLINE: 20th of May 2020 REGISTRATION DEADLINE: 30th of May 2020 Image / text credit: @centro_restauro_venaria_reale #iiconservation #artconservation #conservationrestoration

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Dab and swipe it! Sponges and cloth used in feather conservation

In Their True Colors

1 Sofft tools sponge
2 Soot sponge
3 Cosmetic sponge
4 Hydrophilic sponge
4 Velux foam
5 Microfiber Cloth/Suede
6 Velvet/silk
7 Velvet/PE and Lycra
8 Evolon CR

Until the mid-20th century, bird skin and bird taxidermy was often cleaned with cotton cloth or cotton wadding and natural sea sponge (Greek:spongos). In fact, the sea sponge was usedfor body and household hygiene going back to ancient Greece.Today, a large variety of synthetic sponges and cloth is available to us. However, as our feather cleaning community survey of more than 100 conservation experts working in North- and South America, Europe and Australia showed, sponges and cloth for feather cleaning are more cautiously applied than brushes and vacuum.

Out of 90 people, 17 (18.89%) use sponges often, 32 (35.56%) sometimes, 29 (32.22%) rarely and 12 (13.33%) never. Out of 89 people, 19 (10.11%) use cloth often, 14 (15.73%) sometimes…

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Conserving Photographs on Glass

Glamorgan Archives

The National Coal Board collection at Glamorgan Archives contains around 4000 glass plate negatives, documenting coal mining in South Wales.  These glass plates illustrate a range of subjects concerning colliery life above and below ground.  As glass plates offered more dimensional stability in comparison to plastic supports, they are often found in large industrial collections containing lots of technical imagery and reproductions of maps and plans.

Although the supports provide more chemical stability than their cellulose nitrate and acetate counterparts, glass presents its own problems.  Deterioration can occur in glass, particularly older glass, because it contains water sensitive components which can leach out in fluctuating environments and closed microclimates.  As well as damaging the glass, this process of degradation can also affect the photographic emulsion.

figure 5An example of damaged emulsion

The main issues affecting the glass plate negatives in the NCB collection include broken plates and damaged emulsion.  The broken…

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On the definition of ‘Conservator’ and public perception

Cardiff University SHARE eJournal

I am a conservator. A vague statement, I know. As a vocation, conservation remains poorly defined, at least to those who do not find themselves within it. The issue of terminology has been exhaustively addressed [1]. Whilst those who are not employed within a particular profession often lack an understanding of that profession’s intricacies, they are at least familiar with what is involved. As an example, most know what one means when someone refers to her or himself as an ‘Archaeologist’. The implicitly known (excavating old things, studying those things), the imagined (Lara Croft or Indiana Jones), and the inaccurate (…dinosaurs…) create a visceral image in the minds of people who are not archaeologists. Archaeologists will often reduce their profession to the implicitly known because, though overly simplistic, it is not inaccurate. They will not explain to the layperson, however, about Harris matrices, geomorphology, or post-humanism. An example from…

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Live Local Learn Local: Hidden Histories

CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort

Students from the Hidden Histories of Caerau and Ely course visit National Museums Wales with artists from CAER Studio

Hidden Histories of Caerau and Ely

In collaboration with CAER Heritage, a recent six-week course, Hidden Histories of Caerau and Ely was established by Cardiff University’s innovative Live Local Learn Local programme which delivers free accredited courses in communities facing social and economic challenges. CAER Heritage have embedded a whole range of these brilliant courses into our activities over the past 5 years, including archaeological field work, post excavation analysis and exploring the modern history of the area.

The new course was taken up enthusiastically by five members of the community along with several participants from further afield too, opening up new friendships and networks.

They all had a rare opportunity to visit the vaults of the National Museum of Wales guided by Evan, the senior curator of archaeology at the Museum, and to get valuable training in designing and executing museum exhibitions with Jordan, the…

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Mercenary Volunteering: Part Two. Will I Annoy my Supervisor(s)?

How to Emerge as a museum professional: a guide

In William Tregaskes’ latest blog he spoke about moving on from a voluntary role which had stopped giving him skills as being a ‘tough decision’ and he spoke of sense of breaking ‘loyalty’ with the host institution. If you are thinking of taking a more mercenary approach with the voluntary work you take on, should you be worried about upsetting a supervisor or organisation from which you break away? Drawing on my experience of volunteer management, I think that answer should be a resounding ‘no’ – you should not be worried.

People volunteer for all sorts of reasons, and it feels wrong to reduce the rich mix of individuals that choose to freely give-up their time into mere categories, but one of the larger cohorts are those seeking the skills and experience to either start or further build upon a career in museums.

Importantly, it is from that very…

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Mercenary Volunteering: Part One. Taking Control of your Career Development

How to Emerge as a museum professional: a guide

Sometimes you just have to be a little bit cut-throat to get ahead. In the following post, William Tregaskes discusses his experience of being a ‘mercenary volunteer’ – a term which many of us first heard at the Museums Association’s Moving on Up Conference at Cardiff in February 2018.

I have been a mercenary volunteer. The reality of the sector has meant that I wanted to develop faster than I could through conventional volunteering and I wanted to develop skills which just did not fit in my current role at the time. I wanted more control of my volunteering and my personal development. What I found myself doing was being a mercenary volunteer – but what does this term mean?

433px-Il_Condottiere ‘Leader of Mercenaries’ by da Vinci, 1480. In the British Museum.

Mercenary volunteering is something I have come to personal terms with over the last year. It is also a…

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Conservation Station

Sometimes a conservator receives a task that doesn’t require any adhesives or cleaning. This past week I found myself with a task that simply used my hands and mind. I received two heaps of Egyptian beads on strings that were such a tangled mess no one knew what they were. My job was to untangle them and make sure that they not end up in the same situation again.

One of the first things I noticed was that the thread and string that the beads were on was not an original textile. It appeared that when the beads were found they were strung on whatever threading was nearby. This meant I was working with Victorian string that was more sturdy than an Egyptian textile would have been. I slowly set about attempting to determine where the ends were so that I had a starting point and was intrigued to find…

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Unraveling the Past


What big teeth you have…

More Than A Dodo

Not many summer placements involve being face to face with a grey wolf. The latest intern getting her hands dirty in the Life Collections Conservation Lab is Kathryn Schronk, from the BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums at Cardiff University. Here she tells us a little bit about herself and what she’s been working on during her time at the Museum…

Desiring a bit of a respite from broken pottery and rusty metal, I came to the Museum of Natural History to gain some experience with different objects and materials: namely taxidermy. I mean, why not? The possibility of getting up close and personal with wild animals was tempting, and I wouldn’t get a limb gnawed off or an eye poked out either, as might be the case with live creatures. A win-win situation!

Kathryn airbrushing synthetic hair in the Conservation Lab

Natural history specimens were always off in…

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