This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in plastics in the context of museum and gallery collections. It is suitable for recent graduates and more experienced professionals who wish to enhance their knowledge of plastics. This will include anyone involved in collections management including curators, conservators, gallery assistants. It will also be of interest to collectors and designers.
Through lectures, exercises and examples, you will develop your awareness of the variety of plastics materials available and their different properties. Using examples from the West Dean Collection and other objects, you will see how plastic materials were first introduced to the world and how their profile has changed over time.
By the end of the day you will have learned about the historical development of plastics, where they commonly occur in collections, an awareness of their varying instabilities.
09.30 – 09.40 Students login, housekeeping, etc.
09.40 – 09.50 Introductions (Tutors)
09.50 – 10.05 Introduction of attendees
10.05 – 10.20 Presentation 1 – What are plastics?
10.20 – 10.30 Q & A
10.30 – 11.00 Presentation 2 – History and development of plastics
11.00 – 11.15 Break
11.15 – 12.00 Presentation 3 – Plastics in museum and galleries
12.00 – 12.15 Questions on above
12.15 – 13.00 Introduction to West Dean and its modern materials holdings
13.00 – 14.15 Lunch
14.15 – 14.30 Presentation 5 – Plastics processing methods
14.30 – 15.15 Presentation 6 – Degradation of plastics
15.15 – 15.30 Questions
15.30 – 15.45 Break
15.45 – 16.30 Examination of selected West Dean objects or objects brought by attendees
16.30 – 17.00 Final questions / discussion
Students are welcome to bring along any plastic objects for examination and/or discussion.
What format does the course take?
Our online live-streamed courses run each day from 9am-5pm.
Is the course taught live?
Yes, the course is taught live via Zoom.
Will the course be recorded?
No, the course will not be recorded.
How many people will be on the course?
There are a maximum of 10 -12 places for most courses, depending on the subject. Some lecture courses may take more students.
How do I sign up for a course?
Follow the online booking process to sign up for a course.
Can I use a College gift voucher for online courses?
Yes, simply enter the gift voucher code at the online checkout.
How do I access my course?
You will receive a link and passcode to access the course by email, typically within two working days.
What do I need to set up or prepare before the course starts?
Find yourself a quiet place to work during the core teaching times, away from background noise and distractions.
Ensure you read and familiarise yourself with the Zoom joining instructions emailed to you with your course confirmation before the course starts. We recommend doing this several days in advance to avoid technical issues on the day.
What computer set-up will I need to take a course?
You can join a Zoom meeting on a computer or laptop (Mac or PC) with internet connection, a webcam, microphone, and speakers (usually in-built). You need a high speed, reliable internet connection and an up-to-date internet browser (see "What web browser do you recommend" below). You will also need an email account to sign up for a course.
To join the course, click on the link in your confirmation email and follow the instructions on the screen. If you do not already have the Zoom desktop client or app downloaded, you will be prompted to do so. Please note, you do not need to set up an account with Zoom to join a meeting.
For additional help joining a meeting, see Zoom’s support information.
For some courses, it may also be useful to have a secondary device available (such as a smartphone or iPad/tablet). This can help you to share your work in progress during the day.
Some of the course resources may be presented as PDF files, which will require a PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader.
What web browser do you recommend?
Where possible, please make sure your browser is up to date.
PC – Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer
Mac – Safari, Firefox, and Chrome
For more detailed information, see Zoom’s System Requirements page.
On computers and laptops the fullest experience with Zoom will come from using the Zoom desktop client. When you click a meeting invitation, you will be invited to download the client. You can also do this in advance from Zoom’s website.
On phones and tablets, download the Zoom mobile app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).
What do I do if I experience technical issues?
Support with setting up and using Zoom is available through:
We recommend setting up and testing the Zoom desktop client / app well in advance of your course to minimise problems on the day. If you have checked the technical requirements above but the problem persists, email email@example.com (Monday to Friday). Where possible, include a screenshot showing the problem or error message. Please note we cannot guarantee an immediate response.
Brenda Keneghan is a conservation consultant in modern materials. She recently retired from the Victoria and Albert Museum where she was the specialist in plastics in the conservation Department for 27 years. She has initiated research into the degradation of plastics in collections and led the V&A's team in the EU-sponsored research programme (PoPART).