In her concluding blog post, our conservation intern Puneeta Sharma describes the finishing touches to housing the Ferrar Prints and gives a report on visits to other conservation studios in Cambridge as part of her internship programme at Magdalene.
Housing the Ferrar Prints
The last day was spent housing the prints in melinex sleeves backed with card to provide support to the prints. The number of each print was written in pencil on the top right hand corner of the card. The prints were then gently placed in the sleeves and then kept inside archival boxes.
Programme of Visits
Thanks to kindness of Jane and Catherine, a programme of afternoon visits to conservation centres and other libraries around Cambridge was arranged during my internship. I have had to chance to visit the conservation studios at Cambridge University Library, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Museum Conservation Services in Duxford and Parker Library at Corpus Christi College.
In addition to the visits, Catherine kindly arranged a punting trip, where I had my first experience of punting! (Thanks Catherine).
Week 1 visit : Cambridge University Library Conservation Department
On Friday 1st August I had the chance to see the conservation studios at Cambridge University Library and have a tour of the building. I met with conservator Deborah Farndell and was shown the library, current exhibition and the conservation studio and bindery. I also met conservators Shaun Thompson and Lucy Cheng who showed me the projects they have been working on. Shaun has been working on an extensive conservation project on The Red Book of Thorney; Lucy was preparing book stands and devising mounting methods for objects that are to be displayed for an exhibition in a few weeks; and Deborah was experimenting with float mounting methods. The conservation team are involved in various projects and having the opportunity to see the work that is being carried out was a great opportunity. Adjacent to the studio is the bindery, which I also had the pleasure of seeing.
Week 2 Visit: The Fitzwilliam Museum
The visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum consisted of an afternoon of meeting conservators from various departments and seeing some of the projects being worked on. Richard Farleigh was my tour guide for the afternoon, firstly showing me key pieces from the collection including the recently talked about and conserved, View of Scheveningen Sands by Hendrick van Anthonissen, which revealed a large whale washed up on the shore. I was then given a tour of the Prints and Drawing studio, where Richard is conservator of Art on Paper. Daily work consists of remedial treatment of art on paper, mounting of artworks and exhibition installation. I was also given the opportunity to see the paper store, which houses the collection in custom made boxes stored on movable shelving.
I was then shown the Manuscripts and Books department, where I met Kristine Rose, Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books (Assistant Keeper) and the current interns Sibel and Rebecca. Sibel was working on parchment manuscript cuttings and Rebecca was treating a rare book with purple parchment. I also got the chance to see some original William Blake prints that are currently housed in single folios, which Kristine will be rehousing.
Next on the tour was the Antiquities studio, where I met Jennifer Marchant, Conservator of Antiquities and Julie Dawson, Senior Assistant Keeper (Conservator of Antiquities). Jennifer showed me a wooden panel belonging to an Egyptian coffin, which was being analysed; taking x-rays of the panel revealed previous holes, suggesting the wood had other uses before it was used for the panel.
To finish the afternoon, I met with Andor Vince, who is the Collection Care Officer at the museum. Additionally, Andor supports collections care across the other seven University of Cambridge Museums. With Andor, we discussed the importance of collections care and my experiences in the classroom and in placements.
A trip to Cambridge would not be complete without visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum, which I strongly recommend. A special thanks goes to Richard for arranging the visit with each department.
Week 3 Visit: Museum Conservation Services, Duxford
The third of planned visits was to Museum Conservation Services in Duxford, where I met Paper Conservator Nicholas Burnett. Museum Conservation Services specialise in conserving works of art on paper and photographs. The studio was first established in the Fitzwilliam Museum and it was a part of the Area Museums Service but in 1995 it joined the private sector and it is now based in the grounds of Imperial War Museum in Duxford.
During my visit, I was shown the paper studio, mounting and framing studio, projects that are being worked on and the range of paper objects that are treated, from photographs to large architectural plans. I also had the opportunity to see the stores and a collection of objects that have been abandoned by owners, when they felt the cost of conservation treatment outweighed the value of the object.
Week 4 Visit: Corpus Christi College
The final of my four visits was to the magnificent Parker Library. First I met with conservator, Edward Cheese, who showed me the conservation studio and talked me through the work done through the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium. This was an exciting insight into the work of a busy studio, which not only carries out work on the manuscripts belonging to the Parker Library, but also the work of other Cambridge colleges. I had the opportunity to see a variety of books that have been treated and very much enjoyed discussing conservation ethics with Edward.
I was then given a tour and history of the Parker Library from Steven Archer. Seeing the Parker Library in person differs a great deal from seeing it in photographs online. I was absolutely amazed by the interior and was immediately drawn to the treasures on display in the cases.
Friday 15th August 2014 – Punting!
On a lovely Friday afternoon, Catherine (Pepys and Special Collections Librarian), Annie (College Librarian), my friend Fay Humpreys (Book Conservator) and I, took the Magdalene punt out. Catherine kindly ‘punted’ us along the River Cam, and on the journey back, I thought maybe I would give it a try. I was pretty terrible. I could not punt the punt (?) in a straight line and it took considerably longer to return back to our starting point, then when we started off. I accidently crashed into a few bridges and other punts too (no animals or people were harmed). However, it was a great experience and I am really glad I got the chance to give punting a try.