Working with the MoMu/UA study collection: Learning About Degradation


Bonnet (1880 – 1910)

Inventory number: 80335

Materials and techniques: Cotton; Silk; Linen; Lace; Velvet


Before the start of a conservation treatment, a series of analyses have to be performed. Choices made during conservation decision making are based on the results of those analyses. One topic to explore is the cause of degradation. This starts by the making of a condition report and the mapping of the damage. This bonnet shows typical signs of a certain chemical degradation process which is natural for cotton (cellulose), and caused by environmental factors (light, oxygen, temperature): it results in yellowing of the cotton, brown spots, brittleness, etc. The student learns how to recognize these external signs of degradation, as well as the possibilities for, and limitations of, conservation treatments.

Words by Bernice Brigou and Natalie Ortega, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, research group Heritage & Sustainability. Project supported by the Flemish Government.