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This week in Objects Conservation: a 19th C Korean lacquered chest. This beautiful chest has an inlay of mother of pearl in a design featuring dragons and clouds. Over time, as lacquer degrades, small microscopic cracks form in the surface, causing the original shiny surface to appear dull. Exposure to light accelerates degradation, so while this object is being treated only the area our conservator is actively working on is uncovered while most of the surface is kept covered to limit light exposure. In many areas the mother of pearl has become detached.
On the left you can see a tray of fragments that will be puzzled back into the correct place on the chest and reattached. The treatment of this chest will continue for a while and will include cleaning and consolidation of the lacquer and mother of pearl surfaces, as well as reattaching all missing fragments, and filling in chips and losses. Look for future updates on our blog!