Flowers | 11.apr.2013
Cradling the florilegia
Couriers have brought rare books of flower paintings to the SMK in padded boxes, and they supervise the books being placed in book cradles.
The wide world is home to other florilegia that are almost as splendid as the Gottorfer Codex, and some of these have been borrowed for the exhibition Flowers and World Views. The books have kindly been lent by the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the Natural History Museum of Denmark’s Library and Herbarium, and these books, placed in separate display cases, will adorn the exhibition alongside the museum’s own Gottorfer Codex and Green Florilegium.
Many things must be settled when museums lend books to each other. Hanne Kolind Poulsen and Eva de la Fuente Pedersen – the two curators who selected the works exhibited – first made exploratory tours of several museums, including the Royal Library and the Natural History Museum. The curators then carefully selected the spreads they wished to show and asked permission to borrow the relevant books from museums and libraries. Conservators at these institutions would then assess whether the books can be opened and left opened without damaging the books. In fact, they also decide how far a book can be opened, i.e. the total angle at which the leaves fall open.
Once everything was settled the conservation workshop began making cradles. The conservators Niels Borring and Christian Balleby Jensen are in charge of making the cradles. They measure the books first and adjust their work to match the agreed angles at which the books will be opened. Sometimes the exhibition architect decides that the book cradles may be made out of clear acrylics, but they can also be made out of cardboard, which must be acid-free. A display case is an enclosed space, and so none of the materials placed inside them with the work of art may contain chemical substances that could be harmful to the work of art.
At the exhibition we will be able to see the beautiful books nestled snugly in their separate cradles. At this point the magnificent books will have been pampered to such an extent that you can almost hear a gentle lullaby echoing on the air.
- By: Anja Scocozza