Unravelling mysteries behind artworks


One of the rare “birs” the museum is conserving features original signature of Guru Teg Bahadur. “Such heritage needs special care and we are doing our best to preserve it. Although open to all, the exhibition is specifically meant for schoolchildren who can learn from it ways of protecting their writing materials and books,” Singh said.

Mounted in the museum’s mobile van, the exhibition has five sections, starting with the history and nature of writing materials. It’s a one-stop shop for those seeking information on writing materials – the making process (hand and machine), the inks (lead and chemical based), and writing pencils.

In the conservation section, chemical conservationist of the museum, D.K. Ghavri, has delineated the deteriorating factors of papers and then shown how precious papers can be protected from micro-organisms like yeast, fungi, bacteria and foxing. “Everyone wants to know what chemicals to use to prevent damages to their books and collections,” Ghavri said. The exhibition has a separate section on the chemicals used for conservation.

Interestingly, it tells of how excessive light causes the paper to pale, heat causes it to tear and moisture loosens it. The best way to protect materials is to coat them to fight UV rays, have insect repellants in their vicinity and add paravinyl acetate coatings for double protection.

The t useful section of the display pertains to actual conservation process. Here, the curators have shown how materials have to be first examined to ascertain the extent of damage, ink type, nature of paints used on paper and acidity levels.

The best way to conserve papers and books is to keep calcium bicarbonate and magnesium bicarbonate at home, and learn how to use them for protection. For more information on the process, catch the van on the move every day except Sunday and Monday. It can be spotted in schools from 10 am to 1 pm and in the museum complex from 2 pm to 5 pm.

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