Mellon Foundation funds WUDPAC pilot program

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The University of Delaware Department of Art Conservation Partners with Others to Receive Major Grant to Educate Future Library and Archives Conservators 

The Department of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware has received a grant for $329,000 for an inter‐institutional pilot program from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will support an innovative pilot graduate program to educate library and archives conservators. It will help to ensure that our Nation’s rich cultural collections – from rare books to recorded sound and born‐digital holdings that document our cultural and intellectual heritage – will be preserved for future generations. The curriculum will matriculate one or two graduate students per year. 

The partnership includes Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library; the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science; and the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate. Students will also take an intensive summer bookbinding course at North Bennet Street School, Boston, in the school’s distinguished craft education facility. 

The 2005 Heritage Health Index, the first ever comprehensive national survey of museums, libraries, archives, revealed that more than 270 million rare books and archival materials are at risk. The need for conservators to care for and collaborate with institutional partners on the complex range of collection materials in libraries, archives, and other records‐holding institutions has never before been greater. 

“This exciting program will supplement our renowned Master’s‐level Program in Art Conservation that was established in 1974, says Debra Hess Norris, chair of UD’s Department of Art Conservation. “Jointly sponsored with Winterthur, the program will offer the knowledge and skills required to care for the vast range of cultural materials in academic and research libraries, archives, and like institutions.” 

Simmons College brings thirty years of preservation education to the partnership. The Library of Congress, a leader in the preservation of the human record for over forty years, has recently enhanced its state‐of‐the‐art laboratories and expanded its staff. 

New York University’s Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts and the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College also received Mellon Foundation grants to offer similar pilot programs that address the pressing need for library and archives conservators nationally.