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Conservation of Water Colours and Prints

Conservation of Water Colours and Prints

22nd Apr 2014

Included in the museums' collection are many fine water colours and prints. A year ago the collection of water colours and prints, with a small number of oil paintings was stored on some old racking.  Some of the pictures were in frames, some not; some were stored vertically, some horizontally, and many had not been recorded.  They needed to be properly catalogued, stored and protected.  Much work was needed to conserve the pictures and to store them in a way that they would be easily accessible.   The frames and mounts were generally not of archival standard, therefore the pictures needed to be removed from their frames to allow the pictures to be conserved correctly. 

Many of the pictures had been painted to mark significant events in the history of the regiments for which the museum is responsible.  They cover the years from 1743 to 2007, the same period as that covered by the rest of the Collection.  Some of the pictures depict battles, but others show various aspects of Army life in a range of scenarios in different countries around the world.  They illustrate the tactics and weapons used, and the uniforms and equipment worn,   both by the British and the opposing armies.  They provide the colour and context to the written accounts that are in the main collection.   This museum is the only museum that keeps pictures for the infantry regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire.  These pictures vividly show the history of these regiments.   

The Assistant Curator had assembled a team of volunteers who were able to do the work.  They were able to clear space, paint the room, prepare, photograph and catalogue the paintings and prints but the Museum needed a suitable number of plans chests in which to store the completed work. The Museum was able to buy 3 plans chests which were able to take all of the approximately 300 items with a grant from AIM (Association of Independent Museums) for conservation projects. We now have all the paintings and prints catalogued and stored properly in the 3 plans chests.  They can be found easily and any authorised person can access the paintings. Also they have all been photographed and included on the Museum’s web site.

The photograph shows various stages of the project with the end result – the pictures in the new plan chests.