The cleaning, conservation, remounting and remodelling of a Giant Deer skull and antlers from Ireland

This specimen had been kept in a barn or shed for many years and was covered in dust, dirt, cobwebs, spots of paint and bird droppings. It had been exposed to fluctuating relative humidities so some of the palm of the left antler had split and warped badly. At some point in the past it had suffered damage and pieces were missing. In total about one third of the deer’s left antler was missing (all the tines, and the lower part of the palm) and about two-thirds or more of the right antler was missing. It was a very pale grey colour, from the environment it had suffered from. The bolts holding the skull to the shield were rusty, and the shield itself was made of two thin pieces of softwood attached loosely to one another. The whole skull was loose on the shield and must have been moved or knocked regularly as the teeth had been gnawing through the wood, damaging both the shield and the teeth.

The specimen was removed from the shield. The nuts, bolts and washers were all rubbed down with emery paper and wire wool and cleaned to remove the rust. The old softwood shield was used as a template to make a new, thicker, mahogany shield. The skull and antlers were cleaned thoroughly by dry brushing and gently hoovering over the surface, followed by a jet of gentle compressed air and then an elaborate amount of swabbing with damp cotton wool, dried off quickly with dry tissue paper. Some of the paint and some old adhesive was removed with a scalpel. Once thoroughly clean, the specimen was treated with an application of Paraloid B72 consolidant to protect the surface and draw out the colour.

The extensive modelling of the missing portions of the antlers used expanded aluminium mesh, Jesmonite acrylic resin, fibre glass matting, and phenolic microballons. The right side of the antlers required a shaped metal support involving blacksmithing and welding.

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