As part of the ongoing Cast Courts conservation project, this object was
de-installed from the galleries. It consists of seventeen pieces
interlocking like a puzzle and dry mounted onto a wood board, held in
place with metal brackets. Every part was carefully numbered as it came
down including the
different metal brackets. It was very important to draw a template with
the location of the fixings and the profile of the object to be used
during the re-installation in the galleries. Each part was then
photographed, examined, and treated. The object had a
thick layer of dirt, and had been damaged by water in the past. Plaster
is very porous and difficult to treat but this cast showed a very
heavily sealed surface which allowed for the surface to be cleaned with
dense, slightly damp sponges. Consolidation of certain areas showing
flaking coating and powdery plaster was also needed, mainly due to water
damage. Each piece was checked to make sure it was structurally stable.
The manufacture methods of the pieces were investigated visually.
Understanding the structure of the object is necessary to assess its
stability and make proper decisions about the treatment. There are some
visible mould seam lines, and in some areas there is hessian and metal
showing through at the surface. Metal bars are also visible from the
backs of many of the pieces. We wanted to know how the metal armature
was constructed, so x-radiography was performed by Paul Robins on a
couple of the pieces. The x-radiographs of the lowest piece of the cast revealed metal
supports, as well as metal wire (the bolder white lines in the Xray
image) running through much of the more delicate decoration.
To read the full blog post and see images of the de-installation, treatment and examination, and re-installation of the plaster cast, visit the museum's website here.