Behind the Scenes: Preparing Special Collections for Exhibition

For the first time in Germany, an exhibition will be introducing the exciting link between art and alchemy in past and present times. Art and Alchemy – The Mystery of Transformation opened in April 2014 at the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast In Dusseldorf and there are six Alchemical texts on display from the Special Collections of the University of Glasgow Library.

MS Ferguson 210 Illustration No.18 The Lion devours the sun

MS Ferguson 210 Illustration No.18 The Lion devours the sun

MS Ferguson 210 is one of the texts on display. Please see our book of the month article for more information and images.  http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/april2009.html  This 18th-century English manuscript copy of the Rosarium Philosophorum, or Rosary of the Philosophers, is a key alchemical treatise. The six manuscripts on display are from the library of John Ferguson (1838-1916), Regius Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, who amassed an unrivalled collection of alchemical texts

MS Ferguson 191 (6)

MS Ferguson 191

There are many key people involved during discussions to organise and agree to loan material. These range from our Senior Librarian, project managers along with curators and conservators from both institutions. There is a lot of paperwork to complete and agree upon before a loan will commence including facility reports, condition surveys, to loan agreement forms and treatment reports to name but a few.

The conservation department is involved from the earliest stages to carry out initial condition surveys that can suggest whether an item is fit to exhibit or whether it will require remedial treatment to make ready or in some cases where it would be preferable not to exhibit at all for preservation reasons.

Later on, specialist conservation staff will then clean and prepare loans and if agreed carry out any interventive treatment to allow for safe openings of bindings whilst on display. Arrangements are made for cradle supports and boxes to be made for individual items in advance of the exhibition too.

Strapping books to exhibition supports

Strapping MS Ferguson 17 to exhibition supports

Bindings from Special Collections on Exhibition

Bindings from Special Collections on Exhibition

One of our in-house conservators, Elzbieta Gorska-Wiklo couriered the bindings to Dusseldorf and was responsible for installing the bindings safely into their cases. This also involved carrying out checks on site regarding light, temperature and Relative Humidity levels, security and emergency preparedness should any urgent situation arise. When those levels meet the couriers approval the case is then sealed and secured with the courier present.

The Exhibition opened in April 2014 at the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast In Dusseldorf and runs until August 10, 2014



Categories: Library, Special Collections

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