Top 10 Conservation Projects of 2021

As we near the end of 2021, here we look back over the conservation projects we’ve shared on the Willard company Linkedin page. From large scale washing projects and preserving famous autographs to deep cleaning the museums themselves, we’ve picked out the top 10 conservation projects that you’ve enjoyed reading about over the past year.

Cleaning in puddles in a Willard sink – a modified approach for a fragile textile.



University of Glasgow Textile Conservation student, Erinn Dunlea, documents the successful treatment of a length of fabric.

Find out more here.

The Evolution of Degas’s Little Dancer at The MET

Many admirers of Degas’ Little Dancer may not be familiar with the material transformation of the sculpture—from wax to bronze and through a series of custom-fitted skirts—since Degas exhibited the original version in 1881.

Find out more here.


It’s bath time in textile conservation at The Cincinnati Art Museum.

This cotton canvas dress is the Elizabeth Hawes Flag Dress, temporarily denuded of her silk flags which underwent treatment separately.

See more here.

Puppets on the move: rehousing the V&A’s puppet collection

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection of 800 puppets, currently stored at Blythe House in West London, will be moving to the new Collection and Research Centre in East London. The collection is complex and includes marionettes; glove, shadow and rod puppets; and ventriloquist dolls.

Find out more about this huge project here.

Iron gall ink (IGI) on paper: Saving the words that eat themselves

Did you know IGI may damage the surface on which it is written, and paper is at particular risk, leading to characteristic haloing, fragility, fracturing and areas of loss. It has been estimated that up to 80% of European archives contain items at significant risk of this problem.

Take a look at one such conservation project at The British Library here.


Art conservation and preserving a ceramic puzzle.

WUDPAC Fellow Abigail Rodriguez, an objects major and textiles minor with a strong interest in murals and architectural conservation, began treating the broken contemporary Mexican ceramic jar, she was daunted and saddened by the amount of damage it had suffered.

See what happened here.


Beautifully embellished with beadwork: conserving beaded textiles with the help of a Willard heated spatula.

Take a look at the final stage of treatment on a 1920s’ gold beaded dress belonging to Glasgow Museums here.

Decisions and Methods: Washing a 19th-Century Oversized Watercolour



We really enjoyed the detail in this conservation of a nineteenth-century watercolour depicting Elphinstone College in Mumbai, by the British architect James Trubshawe.

Treatment took place at the Camberwell College of Arts, find out more here.


Conservation of a Nuremberg Iron Casket at West Dean College – What to do after ‘an incident’.


A student’s revelation of science as a language which helps to explain treatments and materials, giving a greater understanding of processes such as corrosion, patination, embrittlement, and the daily challenges which face metal conservators. See more here.

Inside the Year-long Deep-Clean of the Getty Museum

After the pandemic forced the closure of the Getty Center over a year ago, the galleries stood empty, filled with artworks but devoid of visitors—or so it seemed. Routine pest monitoring in April of last year discovered some unwelcome guests hiding so Getty’s year-long project to deep-clean the galleries was launched.

Find out more here.

Conserving Beethoven Autographs

The manuscript conservators at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge have been enjoying the chance to work on two autograph letters from Beethoven to his pupil, take a look here.