Ipswich Museum Featured in National Conservation Conference

5 December 2023

Two team members from Ipswich Museum recently had the excellent opportunity to speak at a conservation conference, sharing knowledge gained during the redevelopment process so far.

Every year the Institute of Conservation organises a conference specifically for professionally accredited conservators. Its aim is to discuss key topics affecting the conservation sector, share expertise with fellow professionals and provide the opportunity to network. This year’s conference theme “To Have And To Hold” gave the opportunity to discuss ethical aspects of safeguarding the heritage for future generations while balancing the needs and wants of different stakeholder groups. Included were topics such as weighing benefits of access versus risk of damage, packing and presenting, managing public access to an object or site, looking after vast collections on limited resource.

As part of this programme, Ipswich Museum’s Conservation Officer Bob Entwistle and leader of the decant team Carrie Calver were invited to talk about the museum “decant”. The decant means the emptying of the Museum, in preparation for its redevelopment, which required the packaging and safe removal of all the objects from the stores and displays. This was a complicated procedure. All the objects had to be packed with materials that are safe, and that will not deteriorate and adversely affect the objects.

The Museum’s team sought good quality and the most cost-effective solutions and had to think around the problems of transporting the objects. Moving trays of butterflies, stone age flint tools, pressed flowers, insects, taxidermy animals would take months to do individually. Therefore, the Museum’s team developed ways of moving groups of these objects safely and as many together as was safely possible at a time.

Bob and Carrie presented case studies and examples of methods which proved to be efficient and effective, as well as sharing their experience from challenges the team tackled along the way. They provided advice on the best packing materials and on what others need to avoid.  They spoke about innovative ways of transporting the collections which were developed by the team, as well as cheaper alternatives that were used when it was safe and the suppliers they used for conservation materials.

Icon conservation conferences are a way of exchanging information, and of raising the profile of Ipswich Museum. Other museums and institutions that spoke at the conference included The Manx Museum, The Tate Gallery, the Museum of London, The National Records Office, Birmingham Museum and the British Museum. Ipswich Museum was well represented by Carrie and Bob, many questions were asked, and their talk was very well received.

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