Feather conservation

(Feather being dried with cool air from hairdryer after cleaning.)

I am fortunate in my job that I am able to apply for training if it will contribute to my project and I saw a course being run on Feather Conservation by Allyson Rae hosted by the Horniman Museum. As I am working on a project involving bird skins I thought it might useful to know about the problems that can be experienced by feathers in a collection and what steps can be taken.
Most museums have the issue that some of their collection has accumulated dirt on the surface, also some objects may have had poor storage in the past or been handled in a way that has caused damage.  In some cases damage may be irreversible but a Conservator will know how to cope with various issues faced by a collection and how to prevent them or fix them. At the beginning of the course we were given a bent, ruffled, dirty feather and after some training it was surprising at how good it looked after treatment.

By Kirsty Garrod, Biology Curatorial Trainee

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