In 2020 IPERION HS celebrates two ARCHLAB providers that are 100 years old: the British Museum Research Laboratory that was set up to preserve the antiquities stored in humid tunnels during the World War I, and the Groningen Institute of Archaeology that was founded by Albert Egges van Giffen, professor, archaeologist and owner of an important archaeological and zoological collection.
During the World War I, the British Museum antiquities were stored in humid underground Post Office tunnels. At the end of the war, the distinguished chemist Alexander Scott was charged with investigating the status of those antiquities. Staining, mould and efflorescent crystals were observed, and many metal objects were found to be in a state of serious corrosion. As a result, a rudimentary temporary laboratory was set up to analyse and conserve the collection. In 1924, Harold Plenderleith joined Scott at the laboratory located in the first two floors of 39 Russell Square. This step represented the foundations of museum science and conservation in the UK. Today the British Museum Scientific Research Laboratory continues working to conserve and investigate the collections using both traditional and the very latest methods and equipment that help with the understanding of the collections and the development of new conservation techniques. The team is a distinctive international and interdisciplinary science group composed of 12 permanent staff, 7 research fellows and 9 PhD students, with a wide range of new facilities for CT scanning, molecular analysis and multispectral imaging, that conducts research with a global reach. The Department of Scientific Research curates a substantial print and digital archive of scientific reports, including analytical data and images arising from hundreds of research and collection care projects over many decades since the laboratory was established. Are you still curious about the intriguing story of the early years of conservation and scientific investigation? Read more at https://bit.ly/37ZVomK or watch the BM video “Behind the scenes: from marbles to mummies”.