Object and materials conservation

Conservation of Botanical Collections with Victoria Purewal

Ref: OM1706



Dried botanical collections are most commonly known as herbaria and are found in research institutions and museums. Collections can comprise of millions of specimens yet there are few courses available to deal with the intricacies of conserving this material. Often it is the task of paper conservators to work on these collections, however tried and tested techniques for paper are not suitable and are often damaging to plant collections. This course will provide comprehensive training in the basics in collecting and pressing of fresh material through to the storage and cleaning of bound herbaria and will include current research regarding best practice. Natural science collections are broad in range and their chemistry is complex therefore the conservation is not straight forward. Several issues encompass this material not only its natural propensity to degrade but also the fact that it is a good food source for insects and moulds. As a consequence of this, most organic collections have been treated with historic pesticides. These are often extremely toxic and very stable and therefore historic botanical collections require extra consideration before starting work. This course will highlight typical signs of treatment and will provide methods of identifying the actual contaminant applied . This short course is aimed at plant specialists and natural science collection managers and will cover the basics of conserving botanical collections and identifying the immediate issues surrounding a particular collection. The course will cover how to provide the best environment, storage, mounting techniques and methods of display. Techniques The practical sessions are designed to give an opportunity for conservators to learn the best methods to apply to a range of botanical collections so that they may be able to utilise or adapt for future projects. The aim of the course is to promote discussion and raise awareness of the issues surrounding working with this material. All materials required will be supplied but participants are welcome to bring some material and their own personal conservation hand tools. Current practice The course will encourage active participation from those attending, to foster the spirit of mutual exchange of ideas and experiences. There will be a focused emphasis on shared experience, encouraging the free flow of information and techniques. For further information about the course, please contact the Course Organiser: +44 (0)1243 818219 or cpd@westdean.org.uk


Victoria Purewal

Victoria Purewal - OMC Course Leader

Victoria worked at the National Museum of Wales for 24 years and recently left to start her own practice. She is an accredited conservator, undertaking work relating to natural science material but mainly botanical collections, specialising in conserving reconstruction of large un-mounted specimens, of note the collection of Alfred Russell Wallace's Palms.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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