Working in Conservation

Time has been ticking on in regards to working on the new ‘Nature’s Library’ gallery and conservation are now well and truly in the midst of getting specimens prepped and ready to go on display.  Most of the cases have been finalised now, so the final objects are currently being collated, measured (see previous blog post) and stored together in one of the basement stores.

This week, in addition to helping Kate (Natural Sciences curatorial assistant) with the measurement of objects, I thought I’d try and lend conservation a hand.  The specimen Jenny (Discombe- Objects Conservator) had selected was quite a seasonal offering and I couldn’t wait to ‘tuck in’ to practising some conservation on this wonderful bird.

Figure 1: Cleaning the dust and dirt from the bird's feathers.

Figure 1: Cleaning the dust and dirt from the bird’s feathers.

Yes the bird in question is a turkey; and the first thing I had to do was brush it and vacuum up the little bits of dirt and detritus that had accumulated on it over the years.

Figure 2: Rearranging the feathers to make it look its best!

Figure 2: Rearranging the feathers to make it look its best!

The next thing I had to do was rearrange the feathers using a pair of tweezers.  Downy feathers were hidden underneath those with a better structure.  This is important as we want the turkey to look its lustrous best for the visitors.  I really got an appreciation doing this of just what a beautiful bird the turkey is and was glad that I wouldn’t be tucking into one for Christmas!

Figure 3: Swabbing the bird's feet gets rid of more dirt.

Figure 3: Swabbing the bird’s feet gets rid of more dirt.

I then swabbed the bird’s feet and beak using a similar technique described in my
previous conservation blog post of cotton wool wrapped around a skewer and
dabbed with IMS (Industrial methylated spirit) and water.

Figure 4: Applying the finishing touches to the turkey's neck.

Figure 4: Applying the finishing touches to the turkey’s neck.

Unfortunately, there was a crack on the bird’s neck which Jenny filled in for me.  Once this was dry, I could then paint over this and any other parts of the neck and head where the colour had been removed.  It was quite challenging to mix up the right colour; and I often had to ask Jenny if this looked right to her as I’m mildly colour-blind!

It was great to be able to leave the turkey in a lot better state from when I started work on it.  I’m convinced it will now be the star attraction in the new Nature’s Library gallery; and will have people queuing from miles around just to catch a glimpse of it.

As this may be my last blog post before Christmas, all that’s left to say is to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I look forward to regaling you with more tales of a curatorial nature in 2013!

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About Trainee Curator

I will be writing a blog about the next twelve months spent as a trainee biological curator based at Manchester Museum.
This entry was posted in Trainee's diary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Working in Conservation

  1. Chris Taylor says:

    Happy Christmas – nice blog!

    Chris / Skomer

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