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Friday, June 1 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Natural History Collections) Eggstraordinary: The conservation and mounting of historically significant great auk eggs

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The Natural History Museum, Tring, UK is one of only a handful of institutions around the world that holds several Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) eggs within its collection. Great Auks were hunted to extinction in the mid-19th century and there are less than 100 eggs known to be left in existence around the world. The eggs are not only important due to their rarity, but also their provenance. Each one has a significant history and previous owners include these important collectors - William Bullock, Lionel Walter Rothschild and Henry Baker Tristram. The project initiated through a PhD thesis to investigate the surface and porosity structure differences among egg shells within the Auk family. The curator requested that specialist mounts be fabricated to hold and protect the eggs while carrying out the micro CT scanning in addition to remedial conservation treatments. All materials used had to be conservation grade as it was requested that the eggs be kept in these scanning mounts during the project. Two of the eggs exhibited severe cracking and were vulnerable to further damage and potential loss. All of the eggs were housed in acidic packaging (increasing the risk of Byne’s disease) and inappropriately sized boxes. Repair and consolidation tests were carried out on experimental egg shells to formulate an appropriate treatment. The cracks were consolidated and repaired using Lascaux Medium for Consolidation and Lascaux 498HV (aqueous acrylic dispersions) with Japanese tissue paper. Failed adhesives from previous repairs were removed using laser ablation. In addition to this, a 3D print of Bullock’s Great Auk Egg was created from a 3D digital surface scan in order to fabricate a new mount and storage solution for the egg. This conservation project has comprised a multidisciplinary team from across the museum including a conservator, curator, engineer, 3D visualization specialist, micro CT scanning specialist and a PhD student. It has highlighted the conservation needs of our egg collections within the museum and demonstrated how the use of technology can contribute to mount fabrication. It is hoped that the materials and treatments applied in this case can be further applied to other fragile egg collections in institutions

avatar for Arianna Lea Bernucci

Arianna Lea Bernucci

Senior Conservator, The Natural History Museum
Arianna Lea Bernucci is currently a Senior Conservator at The Natural History Museum in London, UK. She recently led the conservation of the blue whale skeleton in the museum's central Hintze Hall. Prior to this she was a conservator at The British Museum and Imperial War Museum... Read More →

avatar for Amin Garbout

Amin Garbout

Imaging Specialist, Natural History Museum, London
avatar for Duncan Jackson

Duncan Jackson

PhD Student, University of Sheffield

Amy Scott Murray

3D Visualisation Specialist, Natural History Museum, London

Douglas G. D. Russell

Senior Curator, Natural History Museum

Friday June 1, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm MDT
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston