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Museum Week: #heritageMW

In 2014 Culture Coventry, received ACE funding to undertake a conservation survey, cataloguing and some digitisation of the Rootes Collection. 

The Rootes Archive was left with Coventry Transport Museum (CTM, then The Museum of British Road Transport) over 30 years ago. The archive is incredibly important and reflects the international importance of the Rootes Group, and demonstrates the central role played by the road transport industries of Great Britain, and the City of Coventry in particular, in the industrial, economic, social and cultural development of the world. The collection includes images of competitive motor racing, wartime factories and production, celebrity promotions, motor shows, car publicity shots and prototype designs. This large collection comprises of approximately 800 boxes of mixed negatives, a large collection of prints, several albums, some transparencies, and large format negatives. 

Our conservator Jane has the painstaking task of going through the collection cleaning and restoring broken negatives. The job is a multifaceted one. There are a number of issues Jane has to take into consideration when starting this meticulous task. In this case, a number of the negatives were suffering from something from Vinegar Syndrome. This is a chemical of degradation that occurs with cellulous acetate film and is characterised by an obvious vinegar smell. This degradation process releases acetic acid, the same substance in vinegar that gives it its very distinct smell!

It is a delicate job that requires a patient hand and number of steps to ensure success.