Working in a museum is one of the most fascinating jobs I can imagine, and certainly one of the most fascinating jobs I've ever had! You have a catalogue of objects at your fingertips, that if you put side by side can stretch for miles and that have specifically been preserved and protected because they are interesting, and of historical significance. 

 

During the time I've worked in the conservation department of a museum, one of my favourite things to do, is to pick up any random specimen hanging around, waiting for a bit of sprucing up, and ask what it is. Without fail, no matter how apparently inocuous and straightforward looking that little newt or jaw bone of a dog may look, there will be a fascinating story about what it's showing or where it's from, and usually both. They also seem to have a character of their own.

 

Another aspect of the work is the amazing people who work in museums. The amount of knowledge they have is vast and matched only by how passionate they are about the work and how important it is. If you conserve, it's part of the job to care for the objects and create an environment for them that will, hopefully, keep them around for many more years. The job sees into the past and future and has many heroes, and therefore, is well overdue for a graphic novel!

 

My graphic novel takes place in the conservation department of an old London museum. It is the back room where all of the potting and re-potting and chemical processes are carried out. There is a team of conservators and they are able to commune with the specimens. 

Graphic Novel: Conservators

The specimens, as anyone could see for themselves, have distinct personalities and have been marked, often visibly by their experiences. The specimens grumble and complain, laugh and gossip and some often make suggestions for the methods of their own preservation. 

Each team member has their own specialist technique, developed over years that they use in the job, including the power to see an object's past by holding it. This is useful in the unceasing quest to protect against the tide of time... and waves of demands and stories as narrated by the potted specimens. 

 

 

Image from Frederik Ruysch's Thesaurus Anatomicus.

© 2019 by Freyja Dean. All rights reserved.

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