Challenges of the Modern Object

No material is too modern! 

The Icon Modern Materials Network organised "Challenges of the Modern Object" - a one-day symposium on the 17 October 2019 at the Science Museum, London (Dana Research Centre and Library).

The day aimed to bring together conservation and non-conservation professionals with an interest in the preservation of modern materials such polymeric materials (plastics), modern metal alloys, carbon fibre, modern production techniques (e.g. 3D printing) and modern objects that have intrinsic challenges, like batteries and modern technology. Research or treatment in progress and perceived ‘failures’ into materials from the 20th and 21st century fuelled ongoing discussions throughout the day and beyond – no material is too modern! 


Session 1 

  • Stephanie Boydell and Alison Draper (Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections), “Collecting contemporary craft and design objects for MMU Special Collections’ Process and Material Innovation Collection”
  • Stefania Signorello (Wellcome Collection), “Audrey Amiss, artist and patient: preserving her legacy”
  • Alice Watkins (Tate), “Treating a contemporary mixed-media sculpture”

Session 2

  • Nicole Rode, Fabiana Portoni, Alex Owen (British Museum), “Conservation dilemmas: caring for modern materials at the British Museum”
  • Tim Bechthold (Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum), “Challenges in the conservation of a plastic house: a UFO needs terrestrial support"

Poster presentations

  • Danica Auld and Lauren Osmond (Victoria and Albert Museum), “Challenges in collecting and preserving natural rubber fashion objects”
  • Dr Shaun Borstrock and Mark Bloomfield (University of Hertfordshire), “Modeclix – the additively manufactured adaptable material”
  • Ronja Froehlich (Cologne Institut for Conservation Sciences), “Studying the scavenging properties of the INTERCEPTTM Technology barrier systems with degrading cellulose nitrate”
  • Loredana Mannina (Plowden & Smith Ltd.), “When loss compensation requires craft skills. The conservation of The Last Civil War Veteran by Larry Rivers”
  • Daniel Ravizza and Abigail Rodriguez (Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum), “Tough love for magnesium”
  • Wendy Richardson (English Heritage), “Assessing the condition and risks of the Central Government War Headquarters bunker’s Corsham collection”

Session 3

  • Loredana Mannina (Plowden & Smith Ltd.) and Libby Ireland (Tate), “Loss compensation of textured modern materials: trials in the use of composite fills”
  • Kayleigh Spring (Conservation and Museums Advisory Service, Wiltshire Council), “Approaching the preservation of Pele’s football boots”
  • Lorraine Finch ACR (LF Conservation and Preservation), “Fighting the evils of Mela-X and the Agents of Destruction”

Session 4

  • Christina Krumrine (Christina Krumrine Objects Conservation), “An innovative technique for reforming cellulose acetate in an architectural model of Rockefeller Plaza and the challenges of preserving modern, unstable restorations”
  • Laura Chaillie (Science Museum), “Getting the feel right: infilling plastic surfaces”