Dr. Victoria Purewal ACR
I am an accredited natural science conservator (ACR), accredited through the Institute of Conservation (Icon) gaining this award in 2002. I have over 25 years of practical experience including a masters and a doctorate in conservation science. I worked at the National Museum of Wales (@Amgeuddfacymru) for over 20 years and then I was fortunate to work as senior curator of natural science at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (@bristolmuseum). In 2014 I set up my company Pure Conservation www.pureconservation.co.uk (@Pureconserve) and my studio is now based in Carmarthen, South Wales offering conservation services across the UK. I travel far and wide with my work and I am currently working on three separate projects including conservation of an archive.
What is Natural Science Conservation?
Natural Science or Natural History Conservation is providing care and advice on material relating to or containing animal, plant or geological components.
Studies carried out by AIM and NatSCA have revealed that natural science collections are the most visited collections in museums, with 54% of visitors visiting these collections, second in popularity being archaeology with 45%, yet this is not always represented in their funding and upkeep.
Natural science material is susceptible to a host of problems including damage from mould, pest damage, pyrite decay, cracking, physical damage and general dirt encrustation. Ensuring the collections are housed and stored appropriately is of primary importance. However, things can go wrong and mould, tears, loss of skin; fur or even an eye does happen and this is where I can help.
What can Pure Conservation offer you?
Pure Conservation offers conservation advice, collection care audits, training in botanical conservation, herbarium conservation, natural science conservation, hazardous collections and biocide detection. I also collaborate with other conservators for larger projects.
Please visit my website www.pureconservation.co.uk to see the range of services we offer
Pure Conservation’s client base
The client base for Pure Conservation is broad and varied and includes:
Museums, galleries, universities, schools, National botanic gardens, private individuals and private houses and charities including the National Trust; I am currently assistant natural science advisor to the National Trust and natural science advisor for the 2020 Collections Care Audits for the Association of Independent Museums.
Purewal, V. (1994) Conservation and the Herbarium, 19-28.
Purewal, V. J. (1997) The Biology Curator.
Purewal, V. J. (1997) Collection Forum, 13, 11-19.
Purewal, V. (1998). Analysis of the composition and study of pesticide residues present on herbarium sheets housed within the National Museum and Galleries of Wales. Chemistry and Physics Department, Leicester, De Montfort University: 102.
Purewal, V. J. (1998-1999) Amgueddfa.
Purewal, V. (1999). "The identification of hazardous pesticide and fungicide residues on herbarium material." Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration 10(4): 5-9.
Purewal, V. (2000) Natural Science Conservation Group, 13, 12-13.
Purewal, V. (2000) The Biology Curator, 19, 31-34.
Purewal, V. (2001) The conservation of botanical photographs In Biological collections & biodiversity (Eds, Rushton, B. S., Hackney, P. and Tyrie, C. R.) Westbury Academic & Scientific Publishing,, Otley, West Yorkshire, pp. 233-246.
Purewal, V. (2001). "The Identification of Four Persistent and Hazardous Residues Present on Historic Plant Collections housed within the National Museum and Gallery of Wales." Collection Forum 16(1-2): 77-86.
Purewal, V. (2004) ICOM-CC NHCWG Newsletter, 13, 13.
Purewal, V. and Townsend, A. (Eds.) (2006) Forever Green: Botanical wax models In Buttler, C. and M. Davis, Eds. (2006). Things Fall Apart...Museum conservation in practice. Cardiff, . Pp188-193, National Museum Wales Books, Cardiff.
Spears, R. A.,Purewal V. & Thompson, J.P. (2007). Exposure to heavy metals from herbarium specimens in the National Museum of Wales (NMW), Cardiff. XXVII International Congress of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists, Athens.
Purewal, V., Colston, B. and Röhrs, S. (2007)The Identification of Historic Biocide Residues on Herbarium Material at the National Museum Wales In Proceedings of the XI International conference on PIXE and its analytical applications pp D3 1-4.
Purewal, V, Colston, B. and Röhrs, S (2008) Developing a Simple Screening Method for the Identification of Historic Biocide Residues on Herbarium Material in Museum Collections Journal of XRS, 37 (2) pp.137-141
Purewal, V. & Colston, B. (2008) New Approaches to the Identification and Treatment of Contaminants in Herbaria. In Proceedings of the International Seminar on Cultural heritage between conservation and contamination –The issue of biocidal products in museum collections and monuments Berlin, November 29th –December 1st, 2007
Rich, T.C.G and Purewal, V. The history and conservation of the John Stuart herbarium at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales 2013 (in press).
Purewal, V. (2018) The preservation of plant collections (Eds. Elkin,L. & Waller, R.) Storage at a glance Society for the Preservation of Natural Science Collections (in press)
The Conservation of Hair (Eds. Bacon, L., Kingham, E., Purewal, V. & Phipps, D.)
London, Archetype Publications, 2015,. 120pp
Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage. The book will cover preventive conservation of all types of collections, including natural history, fine and decorative art, history, library, archive and digital collections. Reflecting its comprehensive scope, the book is a collaboration between the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC), the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), the Smithsonian Institution (SI) and the George Washington University Museum Studies Program (GWU).
Continuing Professional Development
I do also keep up to date with modern methods and technologies and recently embarked on a training course with Arthur Green of Greens Books, funded by Icon and TruVue. See blog
It is often the clients wish that you do not publish images or information on the work that you are carrying out. This is the case for 2 of my current projects, but hopefully when the work is displayed I will be able to provide full details.
However, I have been an active member of several natural science organisations including NatSCA, SPNHC and ICOM-CC for many years and here are a few blogs that I posted over the years, providing you with a bit more information on the work I do.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
I undertook the complete conservation of 4 bound 18th C herbarium collected in Bristol and Kingston, Jamaica by Dr Arthur Broughton. The project was a non conventional approach where the entire collection was removed from the failing bound volumes and re-mounted on to archival sheets and is now fully accessible physically and digitally as all images were digitised in situ and an ebook was produced for use on the museum’s website and gallery.
I am also keen to promote the hazardous issues surrounding natural science collections and recently undertook XRF analysis on some of my clients’ collections with interesting results. This gained knowledge provides future guidance on how best to work, clean and conserve these collections safely and responsibly.
The collections I work with most regularly are taxidermy, eggs, ethnography, herbaria, shell and private individual eclectic collections.
The conservation of leather with Accredited conservator Theo Sturge. I attended the conservation of leather course in October 2020 which was incredibly useful and worthwhile. I work with skins which are not worked, but there are many relevant differences that I have definitely benefited from learning. I am more confident in the art of dyeing, cleaning, feeding, infilling and skiving leather now.