Those excellent ladies in the conservation lab at the Manchester Museum have been busy conserving objects for the Ancient Worlds galleries. One of the sections in the new displays explores the conservation of archaeological material.
Some objects that enter the Museum’s collection have already been worked on. This can be a significant chapter in what has come to be known as the object’s biography. Sometimes the interpretation of the object may change requiring it to be taken apart and re-assembled or in other cases the adhesive used to glued things back together has started to fail.
One of the challenges for our colleagues in conservation is sometimes to have to un-do previous work. This was the job facing Jenni Discombe, Conservator at the Museum, when she worked on a rather attractive Wedgwood pot from the Sandhills Cottages near Alderley Edge.
The pot belonged to one of the occupants of the cottages and was recovered during the excavations. It had been glued back together by the excavators but the adhesive was failing. Jenni took it apart and glued it back together again. It was a 3D jigsaw and not all the pieces were present and one or two of the pieces didn’t fit because they came from altogether different pots!
It’s always fascinating to see ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. Whilst it may not be an ancient pot it illustrates brilliantly some of the work of the archaeological conservator, one of the things we want to do in the new displays.