Conservation in the laboratory
Colchester and Ipswich Museums Conservation Service undertakes archaeological and social history conservation. The laboratory is well equipped: we have a range of microscopes, x ray facilities, an air abrasive machine, fume extraction and desalination facilities.
The Museum Service has now been collecting objects for over a century. Many items have been subjected to a number of early conservation treatments, with varying degrees of success. Much of the work undertaken in the laboratory involves maintaining the older collections and re-stabilising previously-treated objects where necessary.
Another important aspect of our work is the treatment of newly excavated archaeological finds. Our aim is not only to clean and preserve these objects, but to investigate them for any information that they might contain. Conservation staff work closely with excavators and finds specialists to ensure that all relevant information has been gathered and documented.
Conservation staff are also actively involved with preventive conservation. The role of preventive conservation has become increasingly important. It attempts to slow down or halt the rate of natural deterioration by storing the artifacts in a controlled environment. If objects are stored correctly, they are less likely to require remedial treatment. Conservation staff monitor conditions in the stores and galleries, and devise improvements to the museum environment. They also test new materials used in displays and stores to ensure that these are not harmful to the objects.
In addition to work on the Museums' own collections, the Conservation Service also undertakes work for excavation units and for other museums. Clients have included Colchester Archaeological Trust, Essex County Council Field Archaeology Unit and Braintree Museum.
The service also offers support, advice and training in collections care to smaller museums within the region.
For more information please contact:
Emma Hogarth- Collections Manager
Robert Entwistle-Senior Conservator