Conservation in Focus: Inside ‘Conservation in Focus’ at the British Museum

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

installation view of Conservation in Focus exhibition with barkcloths, and visitor in discussion with conservator
A visitor to the Conservation in Focus exhibition discussing the treatment of a Pacific barkcloth with Nicole Rode, a conservator at the British Museum. Photo: © The British Museum

Speaker(s): Dr David Saunders (Keeper of Conservation and Scientific Research, British Museum)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Conservation of Wall Painting Department and Conservation & Technology Department (The Courtauld)

Caring for 7 million objects viewed by 6 million visitors a year presents daunting challenges for conservation. Among them is the perception and understanding of the nature of conservation itself, as most conservation and investigation of the Museum’s collections takes place in studios, laboratories and stores that are inaccessible to the public. In the British Museum’s ‘Conservation in Focus’ programme, visitors can meet conservators as they work on a diverse range of objects (from ancient sculpture to modern installation art), learn about the decisions that are made before and during conservation, see how objects are prepared for display and discover how the examination and analysis of materials aids treatment and informs the preservation of our cultural heritage for future generations. The ‘Conservation in Focus’ programme was launched in 2008 with a six-week long ‘live’ exhibition, open throughout Museum hours and featuring an open studio. This presentation highlights the aims of the exhibition, its outcomes and the ‘Conservation in Focus’ programme that has since been developed.

The Spring 2010 Friends Lecture Series is supported by the Friends of The Courtauld Institute of Art.

The many faces of conservation are presented in this series of lectures: from concerted efforts to preserve endangered authentic architectural polychromy in China, to interfacing with public perceptions of what is a mostly an invisible activity at the British Museum, to a spectacularly simple yet effective method for visualising remains of Egyptian blue on ancient art. Technical studies are a traditional strength of The Courtauld and three of the lectures will explore paintings methods, beginning with 17th-century Holland and recent analysis of paintings by Vermeer and Bol, then moving to 20th-century Italy and the Spatialist art of Fontana.

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