Conservation case study – New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College

17. Murray Edwards 2 (1)

Installation of museum-grade ultraviolet safety film to windows 

£ 5,000.00 

The New Hall Art Collection champions contemporary female artists. As one of the largest and most significant collections of art by women in the world, it gives female artists a voice and visibility by promoting their work within a women’s College dedicated to gender equality. The Collection is based at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge and is open to the public throughout the year. 

The College aims to preserve and protect the New Hall Art Collection for future generations.  A conservation audit untaken in August 2018, with support from AIM and the Pilgrim Trust, proved exceptionally helpful in identifying the areas for improvement and to plan how we proceed.  One of the concerns identified was the light levels around the College; these were too high to display artworks safely in a number of areas and the installation of UV absorbing film to windows in several rooms containing the Collection was recommended.   

The principal areas of concern were the main corridors.  These corridors were originally open cloisters and had subsequently been glazed.  The walkway is the main route through the College, whilst the Fountain Court corridor overlooks the central feature of the College.  As these rooms are open to the public, they house significant and important works for the Collection, including Cindy Sherman, Mary Fedden and Anni Albers.  It is also proposed that, now the work is completed, we will hang a series of prints by Judy Chicago in the space. 

The recommended supplier, Sun X, visited the site and suggested that clear UV film is installed in the North-West facing windows and tinted film is installed in the South-East facing windows.  In addition to the installation of film, we are ensuring that works are glazed with museum-grade glass and we are changing our halogen lighting to LED bulbs.  We also monitor light, UV, temperature and humidity throughout the Collection. 

This grant has allowed the College to significantly improve the environmental conditions in these two principal areas.  The display and interpretation of the important works in these areas will enable us to create an inspirational and thought-provoking environment for those who visit, live, study and work in the College, as well as stimulate intellectual interest and understanding of art by women. 

This grant has given us the valuable opportunity to better understand the conservation needs of the collection. The conservation audit has provided us with a framework that we can keep returning to, to ensure we are meeting the best possible conditions for the collection. And what better way to start than with the UV filter that now affords us the chance to  display works on paper in one of the most visible and populated parts of college.  

Harriet Loffler  

Curator  

www.art.newhall.cam.ac.uk