The Infill: 5 September 2017

The Infill: spanning the globe since 2015

While you were sleeping…

Or holidaying. Or workin’ hard for the man. Or in the flushed throes of a new romance and not giving a monkey’s about exciting news and developments in the world of conservation and cultural heritage. Whatever your circumstances, you missed a lot. And when we say ‘a lot’, we’re not talking about yet another ‘child destroys museum artefact and parents teach valuable lesson in taking responsibility… by doing a runner’ story. Although it did happen. No, we’re talking about things like technology revealing a whole host of fantastic finds, including palimpsests at an ancient monastery in Sinaioenophilic inscriptions on pottery shards up the gulf and through the desert in Israel, 14 lines of text from those 79AD Vesuvius scrolls in Italy and sixth-century parchment used to bind a book in Venice in 1537.

We’re also talking about the welcome news that the first 3D scan of the Rosetta Stone is now online (you can make it spin!), a long-disputed Rembrandt has finally been authenticated and the Getty is putting its money where its mouth is with its policy on repatriating stolen artefacts. In a battle of superlatives, the University of Leeds believes it has found the world’s first travel-sized library, while the world’s oldest multicolour book has been digitised and put online. In other breaking news, Prince fans rejoice and doves cry as Pantone releases Love Symbol #2.

It’s all about the cellulose (well, some of it is)

From papyrus conferences to kamiko, the traditional Japanese craft of making clothes from paper, we’ve got what you’re looking for. Out of our environmentally friendly brown paper bag of conservation reports, we’ve pulled the preventive conservation of some vibrant Hokusai woodblock prints, the conservation of six seemingly aquaphobic pith paper paintings, the removal of (lots) of non-archival tape from a late-nineteenth-century letter, a surprising cartographic discovery with a South American twist made during the exhibition preparation of a seventeenth-century Dutch print, and the conservation of a heavily damaged fifteenth-century herbal.

In a different grab bag of treats, we have an informative and nicely illustrated blog post on five paper museums in Italy, an interesting observation on printing on vellum, a report on the finding that some twelfth-century manuscripts from France’s Clairvaux Abbey were bound in sealskin, and a fascinating look at new methods of biological investigation into manuscripts and parchment.

It’s still eight weeks to Halloween

But we can’t wait to share these eerie, mysterious and downright disturbing tales about human skulls popping up in museum displays and on stakes in ancient Sweden, museum rooms full of creepy dolls that undoubtedly want to attack you while you sleep, bats and salamanders and a hyena chowing down on a nice loin of shoulder (human shoulder, to be precise) in the 800-year-old Aberdeen Bestiary, plus vicious, medieval knight-battling snails, a book of witch charms and the world’s largest thirteenth-century manuscript, the Devil’s own copy of the Bible. (That last one might be fake news, but we’ll let you be the judge.)

Quick quiz:

What’s the difference between a ‘crack’ and a ‘craze’? Hint: it’s got nothing to do with what you got up to last Saturday night. At least, not when we’re talking painting conservation. Question 2: what’s the difference between pediophobia and pupaphobia? If you don’t know the answer, you should have read the creepy doll article. Just like you should have read the following articles if you wanted to get your blood boiling: US museum salaries revealed (and it ain’t good news for UK conservators and curators), international art market helps fund terrorism, the Nazis may have stolen up to 200 million books, Hobby Lobby (a US craft-store chain) ‘damaged history’ by purchasing looted Iraqi artefacts, and – in case you missed it the first time – ‘family leg it when child breaks museum’s 800-year-old casket’.

Your video treat:

is the tragicomic ‘How (not) to behave in a museum’. The comic bit being this buffoon’s antics as he bulldozes his way past paintings and ancient pots. The tragic bit being that this video ever had to be made.

The final word…

… goes to Colombian rubbish collector Jose Alberto Gutierrez, in the feel-good story of the month, ‘Dustbin man builds free library of thrown away books’: ‘Books transformed me, so I think books are a symbol of hope… They are a symbol of peace.’ Lovely.

On that eirenic note, we bid you adieu. Enjoy the rest of your day, and be sure to make time tonight to cuddle up with a good tome to lull you into a tranquil slumber. Hugs, The Gathering

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