The Wiltshire Conservation Service comprises the Objects, Archives and Contract Conservation teams.
The Objects Conservation Service was established by Wiltshire County Council in 1973 and was based at Salisbury from 1980 until its relocation to the new labs at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in March 2007. The Service has four full time conservators who support 18 of the county's museums as well as working for archaeological units and heritage organisations nationally.
The county's museums have extremely varied collections and include many different types of objects and materials. Some of these collections are designated as being of national importance. The Objects Conservation Service provides support and advice on all aspects of collections care, to ensure their preservation for the future. Conservation staff also actively treat museum exhibits for display.
The Service also works closely with the Museums Advisory Service, promoting conservation issues within museums and to the public.
The Objects Conservation laboratories
In 1999 the Service was the winner of the Museums & Galleries Commission Award for Conservation for the treatment of a Bronze Age shield from South Cadbury hillfort.
The Objects Conservation Service was also one of only four projects nationally to be shortlisted for the 2005 Conservation Awards.
Following the establishment of the Wiltshire County Record Office in 1947, it was decided, a short time later, to employ a full-time document repairer/bookbinder to carry out conservation work on the county’s archive. The original workshop was situated in a small, under-equipped room in the basement of County Hall in Trowbridge, and remained there until 1971 when the Record Office moved to the old Chapman’s mattress factory opposite County Hall. In January 2007, the Archive Conservation Team became a part of the Wiltshire Conservation Service and relocated to new state-of-the-art labs at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, in March 2007.The Archive Conservation Team consists of two experienced, full-time conservators with valuable support from two part-time conservation assistants (shared with Object Conservation). The conservators are responsible for both the conservation and preservation of archival material held within Wiltshire and Swindon Archives.
Archive conservation is the physical repair and stabilisation of damaged material and conservators require expertise in paper and parchment material, maps and plans, photographic material and processes, pendant and applied seals, manuscript book repair and refurbishment.
In the preservation of archive material, conservators must strictly adhere to professionally approved standards and BS5454 with regard to environmental storage conditions, inspection and treatment of incoming records, and best practice in handling and packaging. The task of maintaining archive collections care for Wiltshire and Swindon archives means that the Archive Conservation Team has only a very limited amount of time for outside contract work. However, they will be only too pleased to offer professional advice to organisations and individuals.
The Archive Conservation laboratories