Conservators on the internet...

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It is becoming more common for conservators and museums to publish blogs which keep the general public and fellow professionals informed about their day-to-day work, interests, thoughts and concerns.

These blogs vary widely. Some of them are simple and updated infrequently, while others are huge team efforts, slickly presented and full of information. Some of these blogs are related to a particular project; others are long-term affairs. All of them provide a fascinating picture of the everyday concerns of conservators and cultural heritage professionals around the world, however.

I have linked to 10 of these blogs below, but I am sure that there are many more which I have missed. E-mail me if you have any suggestions, and I will add them to the IIC Newsblog!

1. The British Library publishes a blog by Saad Eskander, the Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive. There are only four entries so far, but they are detailed and thought-provoking. It is especially sobering to read about the working conditions for conservators in Iraq today:

"Mr. C, the head of the Restoration Laboratory, received a death threat. He and his family left their house. I visited the Restoration Laboratory. It was hit by 5 bullets. Two windows were broken as a result. One of the restorers told me that her brother was murdered ten days a go for sectarian reasons. Another restorer told me that he cousin, who lived in Mosul, in northern Iraq, was also murdered for sectarian reasons."

Saad Eskander's blog on the British Library website

2. The intrepid conservators who have been conserving artefacts from Ernest Shackleton's hut in the Antarctic have been keeping a blog on the Natural History Museum's website:

"Robert and Al spent a whole long day digging snow from out of the stables and garage on the north wall of the hut, so that we could check the condition of the artefacts..."

The Natural History Museum's Antarctica blog

3. Conservators at the Brooklyn Museum kept a detailed diary about the conservation of the museum's replica of the Statue of Liberty:

"Most people think conservation is glamorous, and it is a very interesting, challenging profession that has given me the opportunity to travel and see amazing things, but there are also many times and situations that are the complete opposite of glamorous. Working outdoors, in the pouring rain is one of those times."

The Brooklyn Museum: conserving the "Statue of Liberty" replica

4. The Brooklyn Museum also keeps an online account of its excavations in Karnak, in Egypt. The conservators describe the challenges they face when joining huge bits of stone together:

"Often the surfaces are so eroded, there are not good clean areas to join. Also, getting the right balance, so that the pieces stay together while the adhesive cures can be a challenge. At least in Egypt, there is enough sand to make many sandboxes..."

The Brooklyn Museum: dig diary

5. The vast blog maintained by National Museums Liverpool includes a section for the National Conservation Centre.

"The textile conservation studio currently resembles the dressing room of a Paris fashion show, with tall glamorous models haughtily waiting to have their hair and make-up done before donning fabulous designer clothes."

The National Conservation Centre blog

6. The Archives Hub blog discusses many interesting topics related to libraries and archives, including the vexed question of how green museums' online services really are:

"All the servers we're using require lots of power to run and to keep them cool. Is that offset by the trips we save people making by putting lots of the information they need online?"

Archives Hub Blog

7. The Antiquities Department at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge kept a monthly diary for the recent Egyptian gallery refurbishment project, which includes a lot of information about the conservation side of the project:

" The first excitement of September is the CT scanning of the Roman mummy, the cartonnage of Nahktefmut and the animal mummies. On a very hot Sunday the team transports them to Cambridge's Addenbrookes Hospital."

Fitzwilliam Museum: Egyptian gallery project diary

8. Four more blogs from museums: the East Lothian Museums blog offers a peek behind the scenes at the museum; Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Raffles Museum News is the blog of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research in Singapore; and Science Museum Dev is maintained by the New Media department of the Science Museum in London.

East Lothian Museums blog

Eye Level

Raffles Museum News

Science Museum Dev

9. Fez Restoration details the progress of a project to restore a traditional house in the medina in Fez, Morocco. The first part of the project can be found in a separate restoration diary. Although the authors are not conservators, the restoration is very fully described - and there are many interesting pictures illustrating the process.

"Finding old materials for the restoration of a traditional house or riad in the Fez medina can be very difficult. Trying to find something that isn't new and shiny is something of a mission impossible. We spent two days hunting through the souks and hardware shops trying to find 'old' bolts."

Fez Restoration blog

Fez Restoration diary

10. And finally... three blogs about digitisation and preservation: the Ten Thousand Year Blog from Canada, Digitization 101 from New York, and the digitizationblog, also from Canada.

The Ten Thousand Year Blog

Digitization 101



I wonder how this works when the number of entries, e.g. news items grows and grows. Is there some kind of cut-off, so there are not pages to scroll through? Or maybe it just doesn't matter. If the most recent appear at the top, one would soon realise whenscrolling down to stories one had seen before.

As to this insight into world conservation blogs - it's a knock out. In my minimalist mode I wonder what happens when there are thousands of conservation blogs. I suppose the answer is that there is some indexing system, so one can focus in or track a few chosen blogs. I noticed lots of tools attached to the 10 thousand year blog, so maybe I need to explore those one day.