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Conservation in Action 26 April 2010

Christopher WeeksFor the first time ever, the Manx Museum conservators are inviting the public into their workshops to see how they restore, stabilise and prevent further deterioration of objects and paper archives held in the national collection. This is no mean feat with so many items in the museums care, not just those on display. There are two conservators, Christopher Weeks and Mike Ward who both have responsibility for conservation but each has a very different area of expertise. Coming up in the Manx National Heritage events programme is the opportunity to see, for the first time, conservation in action and to meet the conservators at the Manx Museum and to be shown exactly what their jobs entail.

Christopher’s remit is objects. At the moment the workshop is a hive of activity recording the condition of Suzuki memorabilia being prepared for display in the upcoming TT exhibition. Motorcycle leathers are hanging on rails alongside, amongst numerous other fascinating objects, Bishop Wilson’s curiosity cabinet, which has lately undergone extensive conservation treatment.

Christopher said “The Conservation in Action events will be a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the material life of the collections, and to find out what it’s like to work on the widest variety of art and objects imaginable.”

Mike WardMike has the job of looking after the huge national library & archive collections. With Manx National Heritage’s mammoth ongoing digitisation programme, archive conservation plays a significant part in protecting the originals and preparing them to ensure that as much of the text is revealed by the digitisation process as possible. Mike is currently giving top priority to advising on the digitisation of the Isle of Man newspapers from 1793-1960 and conserving 150,000 pages of wills from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Mike said “The event will give an insight into the practical techniques involved in conserving the national library & archive collections – not just paper documents but also maps, plans, newspapers, books, photographs and glass plates”

On Friday 7th May there is a chance to hear Christopher Weeks talk about the objects he is currently working on and to join a behind the scenes tour of some of the facilities. On Wednesday 28th July Mike will give a talk that includes a practical demonstration of repair methods used on the national archive collections with some items dating from the 18th century, which are not on permanent display.

Tickets cost £6 and there are limited spaces available, both tours run from 2pm – 3.30pm. Purchase your tickets now at the Manx Museum heritage shop for a chance to see the fascinating world of Museum conservation.

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