Shakespeare’s will is currently on display as part of our exhibition By Me William Shakespeare. In preparation for the exhibition, we took a fresh look at the will from historic, scientific and conservation points of view, and reviewed its appearance.
The conservation team had to make a difficult decision: should we carry out renewed conservation treatment of the will or not? Should we accept and manage the inherent risks of such a treatment, or reduce the chances of ever fully understanding and interpreting the will’s material features – its paper, watermarks and ink?
We decided to conserve the will.
The document had been repaired in the past with a heavy paper that covered the back and the front edges of each of the three pages. This method of repair left the document looking very different to how it would in its original state. It flattened out all creases and disguised the damaged edges, giving the will an unnatural appearance. The heavy repairs also covered the back of each page, concealing potentially vital information. Full technical examination, and therefore historic interpretation, could not be carried out. Continue reading »