Three dimensional objects and textiles are held in our repositories. They comprise 0.06 per cent of our holdings and include:
Our preservation activities include providing good storage, rehousing appropriately and repairing existing damage. When we consider preservation treatment, our conservators analyse the object to determine its composition.
This plaster bust of Mae West (1935) was selected for intensive treatment because it was to be placed in an exhibition.
Series A1861 consists of applications for artistic copyright (with exhibits) from 1907 to 1969. When an application for copyright was submitted, a copy of the item being copyrighted had to be provided. The Mae West plaster model, submitted for registration in 1935, is 44 centimetres tall and brightly coloured.
The model was broken at its lower neck. An internal wire support, which had been bent out of alignment, held the head and neck together. The plaster and paint were damaged and some pieces had been lost.
The wire was cut back flush with the plaster surfaces between the head and body. Small pin-holes were drilled into the exposed surfaces of the neck and acrylic pins were inserted. A barrier of methylcellulose gel was used to protect the plaster from the adhesive used to stick it back together. A frame was placed around the model to support it in the right position while the glue dried.
The model was cleaned with deionised water, enzymes and an aqueous ionic detergent solution applied with cotton wool swabs. Methylcellulose was applied to the exposed plaster surfaces to create a barrier layer before the plaster losses were filled in and repainted.
We made a new archival storage box with a drop-down front and separate lid for easy access. We used a polystyrene cushion with a cloth cover to support the model in the box and allow safe transport.
Plaster model of Mae West (1935) before treatment. (NAA: A1861, 6611)
Plaster model of Mae West (1935) after treatment.