Author: Aline Leclercq
Temperature: -25 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Temperature with Wind Chill: -40 degrees celcius
A paper conservator back in Spain, I arrived in the Antarctic knowing that the artefacts I would be working on for the Antarctic Heritage Trust would be very different to the European manuscripts I am used to.
Last week I had a very good example of the challenge that represents the conservation of a paper artefact here. Two wads of paper arrived on my bench in such bad condition that all the fragments of pages were stuck together.
Before treatment artefacts
The challenge that I was presented with was multiple; being able to understand its structure, identity, history and devise a conservation plan appropriate to the context of Scott's Discovery Hut, where the items were found. The paper was very fragile and the shape it arrived in was the result of degradation. Moreover, I had to make the correct decision about the presentation of the artefact after treatment, for its return to Discovery Hut.
Aline treating the paper fragments
Sharing opinions and knowledge with my colleagues was very beneficial as well and together we made a decision. I discovered that the fragments were from two different newspapers, one unidentifiable and the other one from a British newspaper called 'The Review of Reviews' published in July 1893. Thanks to this information and the known history of Discovery Hut (built by Scott and his party in 1902 but where various expeditions also spent time), we decided to keep the artefact folded so as to not intervene with the shape in which it was found, but rather to access as much information contained within the pages themselves through the conservation treatment.
After treatment artefacts