By Bob Entwistle, Senior Conservation Officer
Originally published in the Friends of Ipswich Museums Summer 2018 Newsletter
Rodin’s The Kiss is coming to Ipswich in November and this has given us the opportunity to display our own sculpture. Rodin made casts of his work and we have many plaster casts of famous works stored in the museum. Many of these were old art school objects and date from the late 19th century.
They have a rather chequered history as, being casts, and not originals, they were not valued. They were used and abused by students and then placed in out-of-the-way stores. Now however we have begun to appreciate that they are objects in their own right. We can’t get Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, but we can have its cast on display.
So we have been given the task of cleaning and getting the casts ready for display. They are dirty, dusty, stained, chipped and scratched. Some have been broken. Many have been over-painted with whitewash to improve their appearance, and the definition on the casts has been lost. We are cleaning and removing over-painting and improving their appearance with more appropriate materials.
The casts have been vacuumed, dry cleaned with smoke sponge and then carefully wet cleaned. Many have been surface cleaned with scalpels to remove dirt and uncover their definition.
You will be able to see a variety of restored sculpture casts in the exhibition when it opens on 24 November.