Posts Tagged ‘Ethnography’

Our regular readers will remember my post about going to the stores in search of an object in need of some attention, where I stumbled upon a Norwegian Bridal Crown. Well seven months later and its ready to be returned having gone through thorough analysis, recording, cleaning and restoration it is hardly recognisable as the same object!


The bridal crown as it wasbrought out from the stores

There were three major steps and issues to over come during the conservation of the bridal crown: re-positioning and replacing the detached and missing silver pendants, supporting the wire framework without putting pressure on the beaded headband and the cleaning of each of the thousands of beads.

Cleaning was the first job to be carried out. The beads were cleaned with 50:50 water and Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS) and the silver and gilded pendents with precipitated calcium carbonate, a fine abrasive.


Before and after cleaning the pendants with precipitated calcium carbonate

A mount was made from buckram, a perspex stand and stainless steel framework to support the bridal crown and prevent it from breaking again in the future. The bridal crown is now tied to this support and cannot be removed from it without extensive work however without this support its original form could not have been restored.

Finally the broken pendants and missing beadwork were re-attached and replaced. Those pendants still in place were analysed to find clues to the original pattern so that those which had broken off could be replaced in the correct order. The missing beads were replaced with clear plastic beads and the pendants with misted styrene. It was important that any new additions to the object were easily identifiable as new but that they didn’t draw the eye away from the rest of the object.


Replacement pendant made from styrene next to original

A new box has been made for the object so that it will be safe from possible physical damage and from dust or dirt from settling on the surface. Having completed this project I am pleased with the result and hope that it does not remain in storage for long.


The completed Bridal Crown – Front


The completed Bridal Crown – Back

Having come to the last week of my placement I would like to thank those in the conservation department at Manchester Museum for the amazing opportunity to work along side them as they care for and preserve an incredible collection. It had been a fantastic experience.

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After the excitement of the opening of the new Ancient Worlds galleries the conservation labs have been taking a well deserved break. As interns this has given us the opportunity to explore the stores and the museum in the search for objects which will provide a challenging but rewarding project.

For me the anthropology stores were calling and I emerged with a rather sorry looking Norwegian bridal crown, described in the catalogue as “an elaborate headdress; a bead-embroidered cloth on a wire frame with a variety of wire attachments and lengths of embroidered cloth and ornaments hanging from it.”

Bridal crown with beaded headband and lengths of silk laid out behind. The metal frame is detached and lies next to the headband.

Norwegian bridal crown

The bridal crown is a signifier of the in-between status of the bride, no-longer a maiden but not quite a wife. An expensive object glittering with silver or gold the crown would have been a family heirloom, worn by the females in every generation for their special day. I look forward to returning the object to its original form.

Of course the real work never stops and despite a quiet week work has already begun cleaning objects for Nature’s Library. 12 dog skulls down, 40 to go…

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