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 …

2019 Plant Discoveries Include a Cancer-Fighting Fungus and More

102 plants and eight fungi were officially named by experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2019 (roughly 2,000 new species are named worldwide every year). Among the roster of the recently identified are a few additions with remarkable attributes, including a bamboo fungus from Yunnan that can fight cancer; a “miracle” berry, from the Chimanimani Mountains, that tricks tastebuds; and a rubbery shrub, …

The Chemist Preserving The Met’s Art Collection

“Conservation started by looking at how to treat objects that have been damaged… Now we’re thinking about how to set up displays and storage so that kind of damage doesn’t happen in the first place,” Eric Breitung, a conservation scientist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, says. Typically, if damage occurs, it’s the job of his staff to undo it. Instead of prepping the museum …