The three-month training course in the conservation of metals, supported by Tata Trusts under its Art Conservation Initiative, came to a successful end in the month of November 2022 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai.
During the course four participants were trained in the best practices of metals conservation. Metals objects and antiquities, including jewellery and decorative items, form a huge part of Indian cultural heritage. The course focuses on the material technology of different kinds of metals, their extraction processes and casting processes, followed by understanding their composition and deterioration methods, primarily the corrosion of metals. Objects were sourced from around the country, to acclimatize the participants to the historicity and regional compositions of metals. The course was helmed by Dr Ashok Kumar Mohanty, Principal Scientist, National Metallurgical Laboratory, and specific sessions was undertaken by visiting faculty experts. A full time course anchor was present on site at the lab to supervise the participants during their practical work, as well as coordinate the implementation of the course.
The participants were taught to correctly identify metals via microscopic analysis, document, clean, handle and repair corroded and damaged metal art objects, as well as how to restore and house them appropriately. Specific sessions on casting, metalworking techniques, chemical treatment methods for different metal alloys, and XRF analysis helped the participants devise and implement minimal, yet appropriate conservation treatments for the objects. Upon completion of the course, the five participants will embark on one-month long internships to hone and apply the skills learnt during the course.
Here are some glimpses of the training course in action.