Last winter I worked at the Technical Museum in Vienna to prepare an early 19th century horse-drawn railway carriage ‘Hannibal’ for display. It was a great project, working with a fantastic team of people. One aspect of the project, investigation of upholstery by dye analysis, will be presented next week at the conference Dyes in History and Archaeology 33 at the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, University of Glasgow. I will post more on the project later but here is our abstract.
Dye Analysis Contributes to the Interpretation of the Object’s History: Investigating Upholstery of the 1841 Horse-Drawn Railway Carriage ‘Hannibal’ at the Technisches Museum Wien.
Luba Dovgan Nurse1*, Valentina Ljubic-Tobisch2, Chris Clouter2, Thomas Winkler2, Maarten R. van Bommel3, Alisa Selviasiuk3, Matthijs de Keijzer3, Regina Hofmann-de Keijzer4.
- Freelance textile conservator, UK, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Vienna, Technical Museum, Austria.
- Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Department Research Movable Heritage.
- University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria, Department Archaeometry.
The poster discusses an investigation of the upholstery of a horse-drawn railway carriage known as Hannibal (built around 1841 and used until 1872). The carriage is part of the collection of the Vienna Technical Museum, Austria, and was conserved in 2014 to prepare it for long-term display in the permanent galleries. Conservation of upholstery was prioritised because of its poor condition. A conservation condition survey revealed that the interior upholstery was not original and that the carriage had undergone many renovation campaigns making the identification of the original components and layers of upholstery challenging. The reconstructed history of Hannibal highlights its role as an exhibit at international exhibitions in Vienna prior to becoming part of the museum’s collection. This makes the renovations and renewals of upholstery potentially significant. The conservation project aimed to document and preserve the carriage in its current form. To establish the chronology of the upholstery layers, dyes were analysed by ultrahigh pres- sure liquid chromatography with photo diode array detection (UHPLC-PDA). Analysis of the dyestuffs helped to understand the significance of alterations and restorations in the context of the museum’s earlier practices. The poster presents the most important aspects of this collaborative project.