I’ve been a busy little bee these past few days and today was no exception. I was invited on a tour of the conservation studios at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
At first I thought I would simply be watching some of the processes going on, but oh no, I was handed the chemicals and told to have a go haha!!
So here is what I did…
Getting in on the sword maintenance! We used a variety of chemicals and in the photo I am using wax on the blade, which makes it nice and shiny (that’s the technical terminology there for you).
As well as having a go at conservation, Dr. David Symons and Conservator, Deborah Magnoler, were on hand to answer questions. David Symons actually mentioned one of the topics I had previously posted about on my blog saying people had been talking about it recently- I was pretty mortified actually, especially as it had apparently been making the rounds in the Museum since my post went up.
It also gave us a chance to ask about any new developments. The ‘Mercian Trail’ of museums is coming together nicely and the new gallery space for the Staffordshire Hoard at Birmingham sounds pretty amazing from all the planning. Concerning the pieces themselves, the silver parts of the Hoard are being put together to see what full or partially constructed items look like- this is taking a long time, and the public don’t know about this yet. Research is still being carried on the ‘foils’ found in the Hoard and David Symons suggests that a helmet may have been buried with the Hoard.
Also, it was quite interesting to discuss how the Hoard was buried- was it all in a bag or a wooden box? This is something a lot of researchers have been arguing about, but David Symons leans towards the bag theory, mostly because of the distribution of the items found in the soil, which seem in a gathered position.
I’m being very careful about what is mentioned on here after the hoo-har caused by my previous post on the Hoard so I’m keeping tight lipped on other news!
As well as the tour, I managed to have a look at the ‘Love and Death’ Pre-Raphaelite exhibition which was absolutely fantastic. I could wander around that gallery all day. One of my favourite paintings by John Waterhouse is being displayed:
Amazing! It is ‘The Lady of Shalott’, 1888.
As well as this gallery, the new Birmingham History Galleries are open which outline over 500 years of life and achievements within Birmingham. I was really impressed with this gallery space and fascinated by the different displays. I got a little over excited at the early aeronautics displayed, as I did my Masters research dissertation on early aeronautics in print in Britain.
This object is a Japanned Tin Tray, dated 1823 depicting a balloon ride undertaken by Mr. Sadler from the Crescent in Birmingham. On the 4th October 1784 Sadler made the first ascent by any English aeronaut with a 170 foot hot air balloon he had constructed himself. I could really go into detail about ballooning but I’m going to spare you that!
The galleries explore the city’s global heritage from medieval times and the industrial revolution, through to the World Wars – to the technology-led life of the 21st century. I’m going to be visiting again very soon to have another browse!
Thank you to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for inviting me on the tour and everyone involved!