Summer placement: conserving theatrical posters

Laura Goodman, currently starting the second year of BA Conservation: Books & Paper, undertook a summer placement with Museum Conservation Services, working at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, to carefully remove and conserve a collection of 1950s theatre posters that had adhered to a damp wall.

In her own words, Laura outlines the conservation treatment she carried out:

As my summer placement comes to an end, I thought I would share a project I’ve been working on throughout the summer. Working off site at the Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds to remove a collection of theatre posters from the 1950s.

The posters have been deteriorating in condition for a number of years and the paper has become very fragile, from continuous moisture damage.

Initially, we used steam to soften the starch-based adhesive – although on some posters the paper is so brittle through mould and water damage that the only way to remove them is mechanically.

Then we applied enzymes, as the adhesive is starch-based the enzymes ‘soften’ the adhesive resulting in a easier removal. We applied them directly on the posters for a couple of hours until removal.

After removing the posters, we washed them on site to prevent any watermarks. Then we took them back to the studio for further conservation work, which will include lining for support and removal of the overpaint over the edges.



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