6th International Mountmakers Forum, London 2018


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with my colleague Renèe Riedler we are presenting some aspects of the recent project of reopening a permanent exhibition at the Worldmuseum Vienna at the 6th International Mountmakers Forum.  The forum’s program looks fantastic !

We are grateful to the organisers for the opportunity to present our work, and to Plowden & Smith Ltd for the travel bursary to attend the forum.

Luba Nurse & Renèe Riedler


Worldmuseum Vienna: project background.
In October 2017 a new permanent exhibition was opened to the public at the Worldmuseum Vienna. The museum’s roots go back to 1806 when the Imperial and Royal Ethnographic Collection was established as part of the Imperial Natural History Cabinet after the partial acquisition of the Cook Collection. The museum has been housed in the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg Palace since 1928. The project began in 2013 with the decision to create a new permanent exhibition (10+years). The deinstallation of the previous display began in 1997. In the interim, the museum held temporary exhibitions and was actively loaning the collection to institutions in Austria and abroad. Following an international open competition, Ralph Appelbaum Associates in collaboration with Hoskins Architects were appointed to redevelop exhibition and visitor facilities. The 7,500m2 redevelopment includes 2,400m2 permanent exhibition and 1,400m2 temporary exhibition spaces. More than 3000 artefacts were selected to represent the collection in 14 galleries. The museum presents itself as ‘a venue for connecting cultures and people… the museum is dedicated to the cultural diversity of humankind and strives to document the diverse historical ties between Austria and the world in its collections from all around the globe’.

The conservation team previously focused on short-term exhibitions, loans, and redevelopment of storage. A project of such scale required a new approach.


poster file:

L Nurse R Riedler IMF-6 UK 2018


Our paper about the project

2017. with Renée Riedler. REOPENING OF THE WELTMUSEUM WIEN: TIME BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE FUTURE. ICOM CC Objects from Indigenous and World Cultures: Conservation Newsletter July 2017



IIC Congress 2018 ‘Preventive Conservation’ Monday, Session 2: Lighting and Exhibition



IIC Congress 2018

Session 2: Lighting and Exhibition

“Spread or sacrifice: dilemma for lighting policies” presented by Agnes Brokerhof, Pieter Kuiper, Steph Scholten


Reopening of the Worldmuseum Vienna



In my most recent project at the Worldmuseum in Vienna  I was fortunate to be part of the conservation team to prepare the collection and museum galleries for the new permanent exhibition. The museum opened on 25 October 2017. With my colleague Renée Riedler we wrote a paper on some aspects of of this work:

2017. with Renée Riedler. REOPENING OF THE WELTMUSEUM WIEN: TIME BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE FUTURE. ICOM CC Objects from Indigenous and World Cultures: Conservation Newsletter July 2017. Newsletter ICOM-CC_WG July 2017 final.


Which is the correct way to wear a Maori dogskin cloak? – a mock up cloak at the MEG 2017 conference Cloth and Costume in Ethnographic Museums: New Directions in Research, Care and Interpretation.


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Thank you, Pacific Tapa project team, for sharing.

Thank you, Nicholas Thomas, for helping demonstrate.

With Patricia Wallace we recently presented our investigation of a very special Maori dog skin cloak held in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collection. (object number D 1924.80)

We question the definition of the puahi, which is defined by Mead (1969) as a white hairless dogskin cloak with a fringe at the hemline. We argue that the edge of the cloak decorated with the fringe was originally worn at the neck and not at the hemline as it had been interpreted and presented by scholars up to this point.


Luba Dovhun Nurse and Patricia Wallace

A Cambridge Conundrum: new questions need new answers

In his 1969 work on traditional Maori clothing, S. M. Mead’s classification of dogskin cloaks included a category D5, identified as Puuahi (aka Puahi). The defining features of this class were that they were covered with white hairless strips of skin, and had a fringe of dogskin strips along the bottom edge.  Very few appear to remain, of which the example D 1924.80 held in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collection is one.

But much has changed since the work of W. Shawcross at Cambridge circa 1970.  Development of new technology, recognition of a growing body of textile specialists and opportunities for indigenous peoples to work alongside museum professionals are all factors contributing to such change.

Accordingly, the use of modern technology throws new light on previously unobserved details of this dogskin cloak. Recent research has revealed a number of anomalies that begin to challenge previous understanding and raise a series of new questions.  Finding all the answers will require ongoing commitment – of people, time and money; but any answers will add to existing knowledge and increase our understanding of this Maori taonga.


Note: record of visits to MAA to examine the cloak D 1924.80:

10.7.2015 with PTW

30.3.2017 with PTW

28.9.2018 with DDE


Authenticity in the revival of orthodox ecclesiastical embroidery in post-Soviet Russia.


Copy of my paper coauthored with Dinah Eastop and Mary M. Brooks

Authenticity in the revival of Orthodox ecclesiastical embroidery in post-Soviet Russia FINAL

2014. Dovgan Nurse, L., Eastop, D. and M.M. Brooks. Authenticity in the revival of orthodox ecclesiastical embroidery in post-Soviet Russia. In: R. Gordon, E. Hermens and F. Lennard (eds) Authenticity and Replication: The ‘Real Thing’ in Art and Conservation. London: Archetype, 74-85.detail split stitch v 1

Investigating Upholstery of the 1841 Horse-Drawn Railway Carriage ‘Hannibal’ at the Technisches Museum Wien: Poster for Dyes in History and Archaeology 33rd Conference.


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Last winter I was in Vienna working on an early 19th century horse-drawn railway carriage ‘Hannibal’ at the Technical Museum. 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.

  1. Freelance textile conservator, UK, ldnconservation@gmail.com.
  2. Vienna, Technical Museum, Austria.
  3. Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Department Research Movable Heritage.
  4. 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.

added 10 Dec 2014: poster file.

Investigating Upholstery of the 1841 Horse-Drawn Railway Carriage ‘Hannibal’ at the Technisches Museum Wien.

Investigating Upholstery of the 1841 Horse-Drawn Railway Carriage ‘Hannibal’ at the Technisches Museum Wien.

Conservation in the gallery public access overall Conservation in the gallery public access

Preventive conservation: storage mount for a folk dance bonnet: Fosshape

This post is about making a three dimensional conservation storage mount from Fosshape 600 (polyester) for a rare folk dance bonnet made from paper. This is an example of preventive methods of collection care and storage that compliment Continue reading

Collection care and more: Additional material for participants of ‘Curation of ethnobiology collections’ course (SYNTHESYS/KEW)

Here is some additional information following the discussions during the ‘Curation of ethnobiology collections’ Synthesys course at the Economic Botany Collection Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in June 2013.

See 2 reviews of the course by Gina Allnatt Biology Curator and Andrew Lawton Trainee Biological Curator. Thank you!