Behind the Scenes: Curatorial internships at London Transport Museum

Earlier this year the wonderful Charlotte Stevenson undertook a curatorial internship here at London Transport Museum. Charlotte is now busy writing her final paper, however she has taken some time out to write about her experience below.

Curatorial (Conservation) Internship 31st May 2011 – 3rd August 2011, by Charlotte Stevenson

Over Summer I completed an internship at London Transport Museum focusing on a conservation project for the Uniform Collection in storage at the LTM Depot. This project was the basis for my final dissertation of my MA in Conservation.

The project was not just about making padded coat hangers so that the costumes are well supported when they hang, the objectives of the project were to conduct condition assessments of the entire collection, perform informed basic conservation treatments to ensure that the garments were clean and pest free, make basic storage enhancements and create guidelines and fact sheets for all treatments, storage enhancements and other preventive conservation treatments performed.

The Uniform Collection in the stores of the Museum’s Depot location with the Statutory Collection and a smaller Handling Collection combined contains a total of 884 objects. Some people would find looking for evidence of insect infestation, deterioration and damage boring but this is a fascinating area of museology. There is nothing I like more than freezing an item that has been infested by moths and then vacuum the evidence and other loose surface dirt away.

This internship greatly improved my knowledge of textiles conservation and collection care as well as integrated pest management. The internship also provided me with a holistic perspective on working in museums, making my career plan to work in museums concrete.

After completing all condition assessments, treatments and guidelines I performed a demonstration at the Curatorial Department Training on August 3rd 2011. Below is a screen shot from a recording showing me making a padded coathanger using polyester wadding, cotton stockingette and needle and thread on a plastic coathanger. You can even try this at home for your precious garments.

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