Safe display parameters for veneer and marquetry objects: A review of the available information for wooden collections

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Luxford, Naomi; Strlic, Matija; Thickett, David;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 58, Number 1, p.1-12 (2013)


Furniture collections can be key in the interpretation of historic houses to visitors, providing a link to their own homes and making houses seem inhabited. The ornate and highly decorative surfaces reflect not only the aesthetic taste of the period, for example chinoserie inspired lacquerware, but also the design and craft expertise and manufacturing skills required to produce the objects. These surfaces can demonstrate the effects of time, having been subjected to the surrounding environment within the property. For highly decorated surfaces, such as veneer and marquetry, this can include loss of material, lifting veneers, fading of wood and its finishes, along with cracks, splits, flaking, and warping. Preventive conservation seeks to minimize the risk to collections by optimizing the display and storage parameters. However, research on these materials to determine the optimal display conditions can be limited, insufficient, or even entirely absent. This review presents the available information for related wooden collections within the literature and highlights the limitations of these data for preventive conservation decision making. The focus of the review is on the effects of relative humidity, as there are significantly more data available on this parameter than others such as temperature, light, or pollutants.