J.CAC VOLUME 24 (1999)

Conservation of the Whitby Saurians – Large Scale, on Site Geological Conservation in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Katherine J. Andrew

This paper describes the in situ conservation of a wall-mounted vertical display of large Jurassic fossil marine reptiles, or Saurians, at Whitby Museum in North Yorkshire. The project commenced in September 1994 with a survey; the subsequent report contained an eight point plan to conserve the specimens and improve collection care and presentation. After funds were raised, five complete ichthyosaurs, one complete plesiosaur, one complete teleosaur (or crocodile), six partial marine reptile specimens, and two sets of dinosaur footprints were treated. Conservation problems addressed were the removal of a badly degraded surface consolidant, treatment of pyrite decay, and remounting of loose sections of specimens where original mounts dating from the mid-nineteenth century had failed. Working in situ in a vertical plane meant that bench techniques had to be specially adapted and a temporary laboratory had to be constructed within the museum. The project was initiated from a base 380 kilometres away so all equipment and materials were transported to the site. Conservation was carried out by a team of conservators in three phases over three years and was completed in May 1997. The project was awarded the runner-up prize in the 1998 UK Conservation Awards.

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