17 February 2018
How the ‘Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction’ can help preserve the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs
Liesa Brierley, Ellinor Michel, Anthony Lewis, Chris Aldhous and Lois Olmstead
Compared to collections kept safe inside museums, outdoor sculpture is affected by additional risk factors. Sculpture in the public realm is exposed to the elements, pollution and direct sunshine. It is more vulnerable to vandalism and the proximity to nature can also take its toll. At the same time, the condition of outdoor sculpture is often not monitored as rigorously as that of museum collections. However, damage doesn’t go unnoticed by the public and, channelled in the right way, the public’s critical eye can be turned to positive pressure, increasing support for conservation work and helping to improve conditions for the displays.
To conservation professionals, the Canadian Conservation Institute’s framework of Ten Agents of Deterioration is a familiar and well-established way of describing risk factors to cultural heritage. This paper describes an attempt to translate this framework into a short animated film about risks to outdoor sculpture, using the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, a renowned Victorian sculpture park in south London, as the stage for the message. The film is aimed at a broad audience of non-professionals of all ages and it is hoped that it will deliver an increased sense of both understanding and ownership of the sculpture park.