Introducing our New Projects Conservator – Helen Baguley

This week’s blog comes from Helen Baguley, the newest member of the conservation team…

I have been recently employed by the University of Edinburgh on a 12-month contract as a Projects Conservator. This exciting and varied role means I am predominantly located in the University Collections Facility (UCF), and off-site storage building in South Gyle. I will be working within the rationalisation project, looking at the collections which are currently housed there, such as rare books and university archives. I will also be assisting the musical instrument conservator and art department in their work. This will consist of carrying out conservation work and supervising volunteers under the direction of the Preventive Conservator, Katharine Richardson.

Collection items on a shelf at the University Collection Facility

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Shooting the breeze

It’s not every day that you are asked to conserve a magic spell on papyrus, but this is exactly what happened when I was asked to take a look an ancient fragment of text, recently discovered in the archive collections at the CRC.

The fragment was unearthed by an archives intern who was assessing the foreign language material in the David Laing collection. A vague catalogue entry labelling the box as miscellaneous languages, and an inscription on the folder wrongly identifying it as Chinese script, meant that this item had not been consulted for years and the staff were unaware of its existence. It has been suggested that it could be an Egyptian spell from the book of the dead, but further research is needed to confirm this.

Fragment of papyrus, before conservation

Fragment of papyrus, before conservation

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Uninvited Pests

In this week’s blog, Project Conservator Katharine discusses the new Integrated Pest Management Plan for the CRC Special Collections, and describes the common pests found in heritage institutions….

Integrated pest management (IPM) is the practice of monitoring for insect activity to prevent damage to collections and cultural heritage. It was originally developed by the agricultural industry to control insect populations in crop stores without continuously using pesticides. It has now been adopted by libraries and archives as a means to monitor and deter the insect pests that use organic materials present in special collections as a food source.

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