The Perils of Moving the V&A’s Arsenic-Laced Hats

As 250,000 objects, 350,000 books and more from The Victoria and Albert Museum’s archive move from their current Blythe House storage to a new, purpose-built east London facility, dangers abound—including from the textile collection. As the phrase “mad as a hatter” makes reference too, until the 1930s some hat features (like feathers and even whole birds, an Edwardian era trend) were treated with arsenic and others (like fur) were felted with mercury. This posed significant health problems then and has required special mounts and trays now—as all precautions were taken to protect staff. Read more at The Guardian, whose art correspondent Mark Brown was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the V&A storage.