Book conservation

Book conservation is closely related to paper conservation. However, unlike paper conservation, there are always three-dimensional objects and incorporate functional and movable parts. Many different materials can go into the making of a book, such as textiles, leather, parchment, metal as well as gold, ivory, paint or ink for book illuminations, for example. The DHM collections include both historical and modern books with all sorts of binding techniques. It can be a matter of an incunabulum, a booklet, magazines, brochures, records, photo albums or other kinds of albums, pattern books, catalogues, etc.

A book can be historically valuable or can be considered as an independent work of art, such as a Luther Bible or a precious medieval manuscript. A modern book can also be accorded special significance if, for example, it could be the first edition of a novel by a Nobel laureate with an original dedication by the author. But a book is often simply an object of everyday use and thus merely provides information without necessarily having any particularly high value as an object itself. In this sense, books are widely seen as short-lived, mass-produced for one-time use, such as illustrated magazines, comics, etc.

Historically, books were constructed from durable materials. Although they tend to show signs of wear and tear – they do not often require much conservation treatment apart from preventative measures.

In principle, book conservation in the museum tends to be less about restoring the usability of a book, like in a library. The goal is to preserve and maintain the authenticity and the historical integrity of a book as an exhibition exponent, irrespective its financial value.

Particular attention is given to the careful presentation techniques of the books. Every single item going on display is provided with an individual support which sometimes requires a complicated and an elaborate mount.