September 2013

Storing a Parasol, Sunshade and Umbrella Collection

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The Costume & Textile Collections at Shirehall Study Centre, include over 100 parasols, umbrellas and sunshades from the early 1800s to the 1960s. Some are extremely fragile with delicate silk, tassels and fringing, and dainty handles sometimes hinged. They have been previously stored in a number of cardboard boxes and have not been very accessible. Alice Forkes, Conservation Technician, has been improving their accessibility by carefully re-packing them in purpose built plan chests. Each item will be supported with carved Plastazote inert foam, at the ferrule and handle ends, to stop any movement in the drawer and the cover will be wrapped in Tyvek material to support the layers and any fringing in place. Storage solutions such as this, whilst reducing handling which can be very damaging, enable vulnerable stored collections to be accessible for study.

Caring for the Castle Silver Displays

As the visitor walks around the galleries of Norwich Castle Museum, they will notice some highly decorative silver collections on display, the Civic silver and the Norwich silver in the Keep, and the silver in the ‘Arts of Living’ gallery.
Some of these silver objects have been on display for about eight years within high specification cases with carefully tested materials which do not promote tarnishing. However, the cases are not completely air tight and are opened regularly as the Civic silver is still used for ceremonies. Some of the collections are now beginning to show signs of tarnishing to their surfaces due to pollutants in the air reacting with the metal. David Harvey is undertaking a programme of removing the silver in small groups to the conservation laboratory to assess and clean as necessary.
Removing tarnish inevitably removes a microscopic amount of the silver metal each time, so it is best to carry out this treatment as infrequently as possible.

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The assessed and cleaned Norwich silver display

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