The role of research in this area of conservation of cultural heritage has to follow the objective of serving the better care and access of the collection to society. The different conservation research projects have to provide practical results to the diverse aspects of care. The results, be it through documentation strategies, selection and valorization guidelines, material or environmental recommendations, etc. form a corpus of knowledge NRLC has to address comprehensively.
Research projects at NRLC include materials characterization, preventive conservation, change mechanisms, treatments and documentation. NRLC follows the policy of combining the required expertise of different branches of human knowledge, integrating expertise of different areas.
A very important aspect in the research subjects regarding care of collections is the critical analysis of the economic aspects related to collections care. NRLC is proposing to team up with research economists to study the complex relationship between economics and the preservation with the objective to better measure this relationship and through it, provide decision making instrument to collection managers allocating resources.
Research in conservation provides essential information to conservators and others caring for cultural heritage on causes of deterioration, devising conservation solutions, option for appropriate method of treatment and assessment of treatment performance and also help in understanding the materials’ composition and techniques used to create works of art. In addition ,also resolve the issues related to dating and authentication of art objects.
Improved cellulose acetate hand lamination
In cellulose acetate hand lamination method, a paper object after deacidifation is sandwitched in between layers of tissue and cellulose acetate film and then just rubbed with the cotton swab moistened with acetone. Though the use of this method discontinued in the west owing to its drawbacks.
Indian archivists still hold this method good and being in practice unabatedly. Use of this method has been discontinued since long time in the west as cellulose acetate film used in lamination releases acetic acid on hydrolysis and making the paper object acidic. Therefore, it was felt necessary to find out the way minimizing the effect of acid releases on degradation of cellulose acetate films and conceived an idea that of building appropriate alkaline reserve on the two tissue paper to be used in cellulose acetate hand lamination method and that can provide a good scope for modifying this method. Alkaline reserve builted on tissue papers will take care of acidity being released on decaying cellulose actete films thereby protects the paper object.
Alternatives to cellulose acetate hand lamination
Cellulose acetate lamination method is still being used extensively in India mainly due to lack of alternative method. Therefore, an immediate need has been felt to find out an alternative to cellulose acetate lamination or to modify the existing methods. Several trial and extensive research was conducted to evaluate ethyl cellulose as alternative to cellulose acetate lamination.
Indian traditional materials for conservation
During research conducted at, Regional Conservation Laboratory, Mysore (RCL) developed the products with the use of tradional materials, which can be used to preserve manuscripts from deterioration.
Antifungal cloths : The cloth was developed, which posses antifungal activity against various fungi found on different art objects like, paintings, palm leaf manuscripts, stone objects etc. Cloth was impregnated with a dye (curcumin) extracted from turmeric using suitable mordants and binders.
Antifungal papers : Similarly paper was impregnated with curcumin. These samples were subjected to antifungal test against different fungal suspension. Antifungal assay has given impressive results. Cloth can be used to wrap around the manuscripts to prevent fungicidal attack.
Insect repellents mats : Insect repellents mats were developed using volatile oil fractions of Neem and negundo leaves, which can release insect repellent as well as antifungal aroma, can repel insects and other fungal spores from attacking art objects, thereby they prevent deterioration of art objects from insect and fungal attack. These mats can be used like commercially available mosquito repellent mats. These can either be heated in an electric vaporizer/heater or kept in a museum show cases.
a. Antifungal cloths, b. antifungal papers
Oxygen free environment for museum cases
Organic materials in museums and collections are especially susceptible to deterioration caused by changes in humidity and temperature; attack by fungi, bacteria, or insects; the effects of photo-oxidation; and damage from gaseous and particulate air pollutants commonly found in urban and industrialized areas.
The problem for a museum, with its unique objects, is far more serious. The depredations of insects must be halted, not merely controlled, for the preservation of cultural treasures for future generations. Initial experiments in attacking this serious problem were designed to determine the efficacy of low-oxygen nitrogen atmospheres in killing a well-studied insect, Drosophila melanogaster, and then to conduct a practical test by placing an infested museum object in nitrogen under controlled environmental conditions.
Adhesives for palm leaf manuscripts
There are adhesives available for paper, textiles other cellulosic art objects but no any attempt has been made so far to find out suitable adhesive for palm leaf manuscripts though the need was felt since long time and it was discussed during several national levels seminars and workshops. Considering that this study on evaluation of available adhesives, natural and synthetic for palm leave manuscripts is undertaken as one of the NMM’s research projects. Physics and chemistry of adhesives have been studied extensively and a volume of literatures are available. To ascertain the strength of the adhesive formulations on ageing, tensile
strength of the samples was measured before and after subjecting the samples to accelerated ageing test.