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Subject: Storing cosmetics and toiletries

Storing cosmetics and toiletries

From: Evangelia Kyriazi <evangelia_kyriazi<-at->
Date: Friday, March 13, 2009
Tonya Outtram <058035200 [at] students__lincoln__ac__uk> writes

>I am an MA Conservation student, and my dissertation/research
>project topic concerns the storage of cosmetics and toiletries in
>museum collections.  There seems to be very little previous research
>on this subject--does anyone know of any?

What exactly do you mean by toiletries and cosmetics? What kind and
of what era? Your subject may be much wider than what you have
initially thought. The history of cosmetics and toiletries goes
quite back in time.

For example, I believe that it would not be an exaggeration to say
that nearly all museums with greek antiquities have at least one
pyxis in their collections. A pyxis is a small, usually round
ceramic box, used to store cosmetics or jewellery. I do not know
whether traces of ancient greek cosmetics have been found or
identified.

Another example is ancient Egypt. I remember that while I was
spending some time at the Museo Egizio
<URL:http://www.museoegizio.org> in Turin, as a Zibby Garnett
Scholar in 2003, we were preparing an exhibition entitled Moda ed
Abbigliamento nel antico Egitto (fashion and clothing in ancient
Egypt). I remember treating a glass vessel that still contained
perfume in it! Of course the liquid had evaporated after all these
centuries, but you could still see the granules of the perfume
crystallised in the bottle. I think that the opening of the
exhibition was either in November or December 2003.

And another thought: there may be traces of cosmetics and toiletries
on other objects. Have you thought of traces of such materials on
ancient Egyptian wigs (lice have been found, why not cosmetic
traces?), smell of perfumes or cremes in purses, or generally the
presence of traces on other objects the use of which could be
connected to them? Have you thought that conservation treatments
such as cleaning, could lead in the loss of such information?

Evangelia Kyriazi
Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest


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Received on Friday, 13 March, 2009

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