Caring for our collections

IWM’s care and conservation team currently has 17 conservators working at our Duxford and London branches. Between us we have many decades of experience in the field of care and conservation working in the hangars, galleries and labs of IWM looking after a wide range of iconic exhibits such as the V2 rocket, a B-17 bomber, the Tamzine boat, a Wurzburg Radar; our huge art, photo and film collections down to small, everyday objects of conflict such as diaries, letters, uniform and firearms.

Looking after such a diverse collection of many millions of objects means there is a lot of work to be done in caring for these collections, learning and understanding their stories so that we can conserve and presenting them in a way that reflects their story in the wider picture.

Some people think that care and conservation sounds like a really isolated job, bundled away in a lab or alone in the gallery before the museum opens its doors each day with gloves on and microscopic tools in hand retouching the smallest part of a painting to ensure that we don’t lose those layers of history, or the meaning of the collections in our care – and sometimes it is just that!

But more of the time we’re working as a team sharing our expertise on complex objects like sculpture and vehicles where we have to collaborate with our colleagues to identify how we’re going to care for and conserve these exhibits for the museum, whilst still making objects available to researchers and visitors to experience, enjoy and learn from.

Over the course of coming year we are preparing 6,000 collection objects for movement before they go into storage while IWM London is being transformed. We’re also preparing nearly 2,000 objects for redisplay in the new IWM London galleries. A good percentage of these will be objects that have not been displayed before.

Check back regularly to hear more about our work and get sneak previews and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into conserving our collections for Transforming IWM London.

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