London’s British Museum has announced a generous gift that will be be focused on the world famous Pictorial Conservation Studio located in the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre (WCEC). The Mark Pigott Pictorial Conservation Studio encompasses three vital resources for the Museum: the Conservation Studio, the Organics Wet Room and the Mounting Studio.
The Pictorial Conservation Studio works mostly on Western art on paper. The British Museum holds the national collection of Western prints and drawings. There are approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints dating from the beginning of the fifteenth century up to the present day.
Philanthropist Mark Pigott KBE, said, “The British Museum provides a superb venue of preserving and displaying important works from every region of the world. We are pleased to partner with the British Museum and its outstanding team of specialists to incorporate new technology to enhance the work of the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre and its cultural legacy for future generations.”
Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the Trustees, British Museum, said, “This generous gift from the Mark Pigott family will ensure that the British Museum can continue to preserve its extraordinarily rich and diverse graphic collection and to share it with the widest possible audience.”
The Pictorial Conservation Studio allows the British Museum to undertake important work to share its collection with the public through exhibitions, an extensive loans programme and the Prints and Drawings Study Room at the Museum. Highly-skilled conservators carry out delicate and intricate work using specialised equipment and techniques. They also use the studio to care for the Museum’s photographic collections.
The Organics Wet Room brings together activities that had previously been conducted in studios focusing on organic artefacts and paper conservation. It houses wet treatment facilities in a space adjacent to the main where paper can undergo humidity treatment and relaxation and textiles can be washed. As well as being an efficient use of space and equipment, the sharing of facilities between the organics and paper conservation sections greatly encourages the interchange of ideas and expertise between these different disciplines.
The Mounting Studio is an integral part of the pictorial conservation facilities, allowing mounters and conservators to work side-by-side for the first time in the Museum’s history. It is a dedicated space where prints, drawings and paintings are custom-mounted and boxed to preserve them properly for future generations. This process also enables these objects to be safely transported and lent to other UK and international museums, allowing the British Museum to be as generous as possible with its graphic collections. In 2015 566 prints and drawings from the national collection were lent to 96 institutions worldwide.
The Prints and Drawings Department has a dedicated exhibitions space within the Museum’s galleries, which displays a number of different exhibitions each year. The most recent of these exhibitions is Light, time legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome and includes works that underwent conservation ahead of the display opening to the public on 21 January 2016.