The Infill: 26 April 2016

The Infill: to be or not to be?

William Shakespeare: book conservation’s public enemy number one?

Of course not. And in honour of the 400th anniversary of the death of the man who gave us immortal lines like, ” ‘I can see he’s not in your good books,’ said the messenger. ‘No, and if he were I would burn my library.’ “*, we give you the restoration of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Wing and news of two rare First Folios. One features in the British Library exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts, whilst the other – remarkably just in time for this anniversary – has been discovered on the Isle of Bute. ‘By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune’* indeed.

*Of course you already knew this, being so erudite and scholarly, but the two quotes are from, respectively, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest

App Happy

Mobile apps, of course, have been around for years. But we’ve noticed a proliferation in recent months by museums and other cultural institutions, all seeking to enhance your experience and increase your chances of developing ‘tech neck‘. ‘Being your slave, what should I do but tend, Upon the hours and times of your desire?’*as the Bard might have cooed to his Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

  • Brooklyn Museum (New York, USA): its messaging app allows you to ask questions about works in the museum to curators in real time. We can picture the poor Italian Renaissance Art specialist sat down for lunch, his soup growing cold as his phone pings every time he lifts the spoon to his mouth.

  • LA County Museum of Art (California, USA): its mobile app offers, amongst other things, ‘Bluetooth technology to highlight nearby works of art and other hidden gems specific to the user’s location‘. We love a good hidden gem, especially when it’s hidden inside a little padded presentation box.

  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (California, USA): not to be outdone by its neighbour to the south, it’s got two apps on offer. The Legion of Honor app is ‘a personal tour guide for museum-goers, allowing visitors to wander the galleries as if on a private curatorial tour’, while the de Young Museum app offers exclusive original curatorial content and thematic tours.

  • Royal Collection Trust (London, UK): Kings and Queens: 1,000 Years of British Royal History is a children’s iPad app, but with interactive quizzes, and kings and queens ‘brought to life through over 20 animated portraits from the Royal Collection’, we’re guessing a lot of parents might be sneaking a peek.

  • The Rubin Museum of Art (New York, USA): ‘become further immersed in the art and ideas of the Himalayas‘ without the need for oxygen cylinders.

  • Eli Wilner & Company: fancy framing your smartphone photos? Do it with more than 100 digital frames from eWilner frames.

  • Shazam for Art: think that Damien Hirst you just saw might be the perfect birthday present for your gran? Find out how much it will set you back simply by taking a photo with the app, which claims the world’s largest price database for contemporary art.

*Needless to say, Sonnet 57

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth*

Old Bill didn’t mean ‘sharp’ as in ‘clever’, but we do. And we’re using it to describe conservators around the world who are not just preserving objects, but also sharing their stores of knowledge with the rest of us. Scotland and Ireland give us a one-two knockout punch with Making the Invisible Visible – Repairs on Iron Gall Ink and Vellum and Its Reaction to Environmental Changes. The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials tones it down with the conservation of a gorgeous 1960s blue feather dress. And back here in the UK, we sail on calm seas with the restoration of a 17th-century Delft whaling scene tile picture at Royal Museums Greenwich before things get dangerous again with the digitisation and conservation of a fairly damaged 17th-century manuscript with a rather unique sewing structure at the British Library and the conservation of snake skin using paper repair techniques at the University of Edinburgh.

*King Lear. As if we needed to tell you.

Things we didn’t even know (allegedly) exist

It cannot be denied that ‘imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown’*, but even in our wildest dreams had we never conceived of these fantastical flights of fancy. In fact, had we not seen the visual proof on the world-wide inter-web (where everything is 100% factual and true), we’re not quite sure we’d believe it.

*A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Natch.

Your video treat:

is a gorgeous seven minutes on the preservation of the Mosaic of the Epiphany of Dionysus, found at the ancient city of Dion at the foot of Mt Olympus. ‘Come, thou monarch of the vine, Plumpy Bacchus with pink eye.’*!

*Even after ‘the conquering wine hath steeped [y]our sense’, you’d remember it’s Antony and Cleopatra

The final word…

…g oes to you know who. ‘Nature doth require her times of preservation,’* he said, and so do books, manuscripts, documents, drawings, watercolours, maps and so on. So back to work – it’s preservation time!

*Obviously you know it’s from Henry VIII. But do you remember the surname of the mother of the person who said it?

It’s back to work for us, too. We’ll see you again when the April showers have (hopefully) brought May flowers your way. Hugs, The Gathering

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