Intership at Musée Bolo

Noémie Nydegger

Student Master in conservation-restoration

Bachelor thesis

Study of particular degradations on two cathode ray tube screens, a digital VT220 and a digital VR201 preserved in Musée Bolo

As a future conservator-restorer of technical, scientific and industrial cultural heritage, I had to do a Bachelor’s degree work (Bachelor of Arts, HES-SO in conservation) focused either on a preventive conservation type subject or a research subject. It is in the latter category that my dissertation work falls, which took place during the summer of 2019. I had, already in 2018, been informed of the existence of a museum of computer and video games that I then hastened to contact, in the hope of finding a subject of dissertation on an important and still largely underestimated heritage.

During some exchanges with the committee of the association Les Amis du Musée Bolo, I was able to visit the museum and the main reserves. They told me about a phenomenon of degradation that was affecting some of the CRT screens in their collections but also in other museums and private collections. The reasons for the deterioration were unclear and there seemed to be little certainty on the subject. So I set myself the challenge of determining the causes of this particular degradation during my Bachelor’s thesis.

Why video game and computer heritage?

First of all, the objects from this industry have special materials (various plastics, metal alloys, paper archives, batteries, etc.) and therefore their own degradation, on which there is still little conservation-restoration work done. Secondly, this is a field that is developing very rapidly, with objects rapidly becoming “obsolete” and whose historical and scientific value is generally neglected. Unfortunately, it is almost only the enthusiasts who realise the value of such so-called computer collections. This brings many challenges in terms of heritage conservation and therefore conservation of the materials that make up the objects.

Finally, it is a heritage that I personally love, being a great fan of certain video games… For me, much more than books, it’s a powerful means of distraction, allowing me to escape but also, very often, to tackle fascinating subjects about our societies. The history of computers and video games is an important part of our cultural heritage, which I leave to other professionals. For my part, I specialise in the conservation and restoration of the constituent materials and the maintenance of good conservation conditions in storage and on display.

I would like to thank the members of the association Les Amis du Musée Bolo who allowed me to carry out my research work in excellent conditions, despite the “limited means” available. I particularly thank Cédric Gaudin, Varen Casoli and Romain Borgeaud. Romain was present every day when I came to work on site, in their premises at the EPFL, not far from the permanent exhibition. This is how I was able to have all the necessary material and support, with a very reactive team and strong support.

A team of professionals with diversified activities