Equipping the Vision of Kelvin Hall

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Arts

Abstract

The project integrates and enhances provision in Conservation/Cultural Heritage Science research at the University of Glasgow, specifically within The Hunterian, Archives & Special Collections (ASC) and the College of Arts (Technical Art History, Conservation & Archaeology). It leverages the unique co-location of collections, skills, and resources in the University's Kelvin Hall Study Centre to achieve fully its conception as a world-class object-based research and research-led teaching facility.
Enhanced digital object information (imaging, technical examination and analysis across the electromagnetic spectrum) and improved data sharing and interpretation are essential outcomes for researchers at Glasgow and beyond. The equipment requested will match UK institutions engaged in imaging and technical examination within heritage science, delivering applied research and developing and disseminating best practice in collections conservation and preservation. We seek to upgrade/refurbish five specialised microscopes with digital cameras as an essential provision, together with systems for Fourier Transform Infrared Imaging, Raman Spectroscopy, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and a Micro-Fading. Combined, they are unique resources among UK University museum conservation/science departments, such enhancements will allow further development of expertise in the application, interpretation and contextualisation of the data produced. Similarly, co-location of the equipment, alongside cultural heritage collections and diverse specialist academic expertise, creates a unique facility for the development of heritage science. For example; identification of Pacific barkcloth for The Hunterian and Kew Garden collections; identification of polychromies on the Distance Stones on the Antonine Wall; comparative analysis of Spanish painters including El Greco and Murillo; re-interpreting Dr Hunter's Gravid Uteri casts; the historical technology of insect collecting and its conservation; developing an access policy for light sensitive objects including contemporary prints and illuminated manuscripts in ASC; advising on the rehanging and care of C17th panel paintings in National Trust collections; developing new adhesives for displaying vulnerable objects; improving non-destructive non-invasive examination and analysis.
The University holds one of the most significant research collections in Scotland, encompassing The Hunterian, one of the world's leading university museums, and the Archives & Special Collections holdings of the university library. At their core is Dr William Hunter's bequest (1718-1783) that created the museum. The original museum collection has grown substantially with around 1.5 million items. Hunter's library, now housed in ASC, is acknowledged to be one of the finest 18th-century book collections to remain intact. With a state-of-the-art collections store, object study rooms, teaching labs, conservation and digitisation studios, Kelvin Hall, the first purpose-designed facility in the Higher Education sector offering innovative object-based research, teaching and training, represents a transformational partnership between the University, City of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland.
Provision for upgrade or refurbishment of existing equipment was not funded within the original Kelvin Hall initiative and this must currently be accessed on loan or in multiple locations on campus. Most of the requested equipment will be housed within the Study Centre where research is conducted by the PI, Co-I and colleagues from the University including Hunterian curators, and in ASC. The planned relocation and integration of the Centre for Conservation and Technical Art History into Kelvin Hall in 2021/22 will provide additional space, and alongside the equipment requested, will consolidate research capability and act as a catalyst for further interdisciplinary research on University and other collections.

Publications

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