Volunteering in Conservation Part 1

Wednesday 25th August 2021

My name is Alex Batchelor, a masters student at Cardiff University studying MSc Conservation Practice. I have been volunteering at Perth Museum & Art Gallery throughout August to help in the museum’s conservation laboratory.

The collection cared for by Culture Perth and Kinross extends to hundreds of thousands of objects in its stores, only a fraction of which are currently on display. However, Perth City Hall is currently in the process of being transformed into a major new museum. Once completed, it will display some of the Recognised Collections of National Significance, and a range of extraordinary loans from around the world.

Hundreds of fascinating items from the museum’s stores have been selected for display in the City Hall Museum. These items will all need a condition report to ascertain whether any remedial conservation is required before the item can be displayed. My task while at Perth Museum & Art Gallery is to locate many of these objects and assess their condition. Some will need no treatment, some will need to be repackaged and sent to a specialist conservation studio, and some will require minor treatments which we can perform in-house.

I am particularly focused on archaeological objects that have been uncovered in the areas in and around Perth. These have been unearthed by large archaeological digs and casual metal detectorists. Due to Perth’s high water table, many organic items have survived with incredible clarity, making the collection an exceptional example of well-preserved archaeological objects. The items date from the Iron Age to Medieval times and range from leather shoes to Viking bracelets.

I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity at Perth Museum & Art Gallery and to be able to contribute to this excellent project. I hope I can help bring all these magical objects to display for everyone to enjoy in the new museum.