V&A conservators race to preserve art and design classics in plastic

Sculptures, along with landmark pieces of design including furniture, fashion and even toys are among museum exhibits that are suffering decay, ranging from discolouration to a disintegration to powder, shrinkage and stress cracking. In the V&A, the Blow chair – designed with layers of PVC in 1969 as the first inflatable chair to be mass produced – has become completely rigid. The foam in an early 1970s Larry the Lamb toy – within the V&A’s Museum of Childhood holdings – has deteriorated and can no longer even be handled; while once-slinky 1960s PVC dress has become “very sticky” because plasticers are coming to the surface, attracting dust that attacks it still further.

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