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Dr. Joelle Wickens
Education is one of the most sustainable forms of preventive conservation. In particular, sowing seeds of interest in caring for cultural heritage at a young age increases the likelihood that there will be future generations that continue to invest in preservation. For my ARTC-667 project, I created a cutaway Islamic book model and handling guide to help the Free Library of Philadelphia teach about Islamicate materials and equip school children with the knowledge necessary to handle rare books. At the micro-level, the goal of this project was to empower students to handle special collections and give them the knowledge and confidence to do so by following recommended practices. The project also serves the preservation needs of the collection by reducing the risk of improper handling. Book models are binding structures meant to closely replicate historic structures. A cutaway model is a specific type of book model that is bound to appear unfinished and fully complete at the same time because parts of the book hidden during the creation process are left exposed. Cutaway models are great tools for teaching about the materiality of books because a user can observe all the materials and techniques used in the manufacture. Models are particularly well-suited to help kinetic and visual learners grasp concepts and ideas. The ability to engage with something hands-on is critical for developing interest in that thing. Handling creates a connection between the user and the object and gives agency to the user. Book models allow for greater physical engagement than may be possible with a collection object because they can be used in ways that are not advisable for collection objects. Access is sometimes at odds with preventive recommendations, so models are great solutions for collection stewards to give access and agency back to students. The action of giving students something they can handle helps to train them to handle collection objects. Giving students the chance to use a book model is a preventive measure because it essentially allows them to “practice" on something “sturdier." Handling often poses the most significant risk of damage to an object, especially if the patron has no prior experience using special collection materials. Models can give them that experience without presenting a risk to collection materials. The exposed features of a cutaway model are particularly useful in a classroom setting because they also make it possible to clearly understand how a book operates, thus making the user aware of its handling needs. To drive home safe handling, I wrote a safe handling guide for students. I kept the language simple and positive to be accessible by the broadest audience. I hope the guide will help students make a connection between how their actions can affect the preservation of an object. Every effort made to prolong the life of an object, however small, is an act of preventive conservation. The Free Library of Philadelphia initially approached me to help them develop a teaching aid. I identified this as an opportunity to not only educate students about Islamicate materials but to help them understand how they can care for books (whether from a special collection, borrowed from a library, or in their own home). There is also the benefit that this model helps increase awareness of materials outside of the Western canon. I wrote a guide for teachers (non-specialists who may be unfamiliar with book structures) to help them use the model in a classroom. The guide helps to emphasize the unique features of Islamic book structures that are showcased in the model by all my design decisions. I think in addition to fostering visibility of material culture from the Muslim community, this model can also help students to appreciate library materials as one-of- a-kind, unique objects that require care. I hope school children come away from handling my model with a greater appreciation of why books are special and that it is important that we take care of them.
Dr. Joelle Wickens and Michelle Barger
Anoxia is a preventive tool used by cultural heritage caretakers to preserve objects within their collections. It is used for two purposes: pest eradication and the protection of oxygen sensitive materials. The resource is an overview of anoxia use in the cultural heritage field based on available literature. It is meant to serve as an introduction or a jumping off point. The resource contains a literature review of available publications, a general overview of anoxia organized into a flowchart, and a hypothetical case study using the new storage case created for Untitled (Venetian), 1973. The literature review has been broken up into color-coded sections and subsections that are reflected and referenced in the rest of the resource. The organization of the literature review was broken up into eight main sections: Using anoxia for pest eradication; Using anoxia for the preservation of oxygen-sensitive materials; Setting up an anoxic environment; Nitrogen purging; Materials that are damaged by anoxic environments; Materials; Material costs; and Sustainability. Using anoxia for the preservation of oxygen-sensitive materials and Materials both have subsections meant to help direct the reader to specific information within these sections. The general overview uses many of the sections set up in the literature review to help the reader think through the decision-making process. The literature review and general overview were used to formulate a plan for the case study to outfit Untitled (Venetian), 1973's new storage case for anoxia. The hope for this resource is that it can be accessible not just to the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, but to institutions who are looking into the use of anoxia, but don't know where to start.
There was an interest on the part of the author to gain experience with completing an assessment of a small collection and finding preservation solutions to meet their needs and work within their goals and capabilities. Because the institutions where such a project could be carried out were limited due to the SARS- CoV-2 global pandemic, the list of potential collections was limited to institutions with pre-existing connections. This is the reason the Golf Museum at the James River Country Club was chosen. The collection is small, with no more than 1000 objects, and has a specific focus on historic golf object, mostly dating back to 1930 or earlier. The collection is housed within the country club, but the two are technically separate entities. There is a museum board that make decisions for the collection, but there are no dedicated staff members for collection preservation or maintenance. A need was identified between the author and the board president for an assessment of the current preservation conditions of the collection as a whole to include the exhibition space, the storage areas, and the museum office that also housed some collection items. Because the museum is located in the author's hometown, the project was agreed to before the official start of the PCRA course to allow for on-site visits while the author was home during winter break. The assessment was modeled after the needs assessments used to determine areas of highest need within a collection. Data was gathered both in-person and through communication with persons relevant to the museum. The project began with an initial site visit in January 2021. During this visit, two Conserv T, RH, and light sensors were placed for data logging in a display case and in a drawer of the flat file storage units. Over the course of the semester, data collection, both by the loggers and by the author, was combined with topics being discussed in class seminars and with readings being added to the bibliography. The result of the assessment was a determination that from a physical and environmental stand point the Golf Museum collection is in quite a good position, particularly when considering the size and resources of the collection. This is largely due to its location within the JRCC, a public space that is maintained to a very high standard in terms of environmental control. There are robust monitoring systems already in place and earlier volunteer efforts created preservation safe display and storage conditions. What the collection did not have in place were policies, and this was the primary recommendation of the final report. There were small housekeeping matters to be addressed, but the best action they could take to preserve their collection was policy creation. To this end the final report discusses the importance of recognizing policy writing as an act of preservation. Suggestions were made to facilitate long term collection monitoring as well.
The monitoring and mitigation of dust in library collections is a broad area of research with many well-documented projects from larger institutions such as The National Archives and The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin. But there is less work specifically focused on methods and materials that can be useful to smaller institutions such as local public libraries. While addressing dust in a collection can seem straightforward, there are many aspects to consider: monetary cost, availability of staff, labor cost, and the amount of time available. This research was conducted to address such aspects and provide an organized resource with suggestions for monitoring strategies, supplies, and cleaning methods, as well as collecting and summarizing relevant information. The final results took the form of tiered lists of methods and supplies, from lowest to highest resources required, as well as suggestions for cleaning approaches. The ultimate goal of this research was not to determine every combination of cleaning and monitoring that could be an appropriate solution, but provide a framework for institutions to determine what is necessary for their own collections, and what is both practicable and achievable given their individual limitations.
Silver objects can tarnish or corrode when exposed to sulphur-containing pollutants and elevated ambient humidity over time. Tarnish presents as a blue/black, yellow/brown or iridescent corrosion layer on the surface and will darken if left unaddressed. This is often an unwanted aesthetic for art objects. Silver objects present complex (and often time-consuming) preservation issues for the institutions that steward them, due to their inherent tendency to visually change over time. It can be especially difficult for smaller institutions that are limited in funding, time, and trained personnel. Adath Israel Congregation is an example of such an institution that houses an extensive Judaica collection with many silver-containing artefacts but currently has limited resources allocated towards collection care. Adath Israel Congregation has a treasure of historical, ritual, archival and artistic objects. Each of the author's discussions with staff and congregants added more to the growing list of meaningful objects that Adath stewards. There is currently no centralized conversation about these objects, which are stored and used in a variety of ways. This is an amazing collection that could excite and inspire many if it was researched and curated. Currently, little is formally documented about the collection, including its scope, size or context; it is unclear how this particular exhibition came to be or what the original goals were for its use and display. There is risk of dissociation of the objects from their historical context. While the goal of this report is to examine preservation options for the silver objects on display, the collection would benefit from an overall survey and Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) survey in order to fully recognize all pieces within the collection and identify their needs. A brief discussion of silver tarnish and associated conservation and preservation options is presented. Options for polishing, coating, storing, and displaying silver are examined. The author developed decision diagrams, intended to visualize the relative factors that should be considered when choosing a treatment path. While the primary goal of this report is to examine possibilities for the silver in Adath's collection, the biggest takeaway is that Adath has a great, extensive and diverse collection that would benefit from attention and care overall. With a little bit of kavannah – intention – this collection can be activated to engage audiences and support preservation goals. Hiddur mitzvah (beautifying the commandment), engaging across generations, spiritual ritual and connectedness to community are all Jewish values that can be brought to the forefront of caring for this collection. It would be best to develop an overall plan before deciding what to do with the silver.
A condition survey of the Hoarfrosts (1974-76) in the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation's collection was identified as the best way to inform the construction and condition of the series as well as the storage, handling, and display practices for the works. A literature review covering the creation of the series and common condition concerns as well as best practices for collection condition surveys informed the survey design. Survey tools presented in this report include a representative sample set, a survey form, a decision guide, and a plan for data analysis. The survey was designed to be completed as part of an 8-week internship to take place in the summer of 2020 by two WUDPAC Graduate Fellows with the assistance of RRF staff. While the Covid-19 crisis has negated this timeline, it is the intent of the author that the survey could be carried out by two trained individuals at some point in the future. The condition survey will inform the condition and construction of the works as well as their storage, handling, and display. The survey is designed to gather data covering current storage, unpacking, and installation, as well as material and condition of the works themselves. To emphasize the practicality of the survey, three hypotheses for degradation pathways will be explored through data analysis following data collection. A modified stratified sampling system was used to identify a sample set of 14 Hoarfrosts (~33% of the RRF collection). The sample set was chosen via random sampling from four strata based on object descriptions: strictly solvent transfer on fabric, cardboard containing, paper containing, and silkscreened fabric containing. Substitutions to the randomly chosen sample set were made based on loan scheduling and known housing concerns. The Hoarfrost Condition Survey Form and Decision Guide were developed to be used in tandem throughout the survey. The Decision Guide defines Hoarfrost elements as well as the construction and condition terms used throughout the Survey Form. The guide is designed to be updated by surveyors throughout the survey process to reflect Hoarfrost-specific observations in the form of descriptions and images. The Survey Form is hosted on GoogleForms and is designed for direct data entry. Data gathered in the survey form will be accompanied by a sketch of the Hoarfrost being surveyed uploaded as a pdf directly to the form. Designated survey checkpoints allow for alterations to be made to the survey form by the surveyors as needed. Data collected in the survey will be analyzed using the GoogleForm Response Summary function and linear regression analysis based on degradation pathway hypotheses. The final Hoarfrost Condition Survey Report will include the results of the data analysis as well as a description of the condition of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation's collection of Hoarfrosts and recommendations for storage, handling, shipping, and display. All data collected in the survey will also be provided to RRF.
David C. Driskell is a prominent historian of African American Art and an artist whose work continues to grow in interest and significance. A portion of his body of artwork and significant personal collections are currently stored in his studio building in Hyattsville, Maryland. Since the start of this project, designed to work closely with Driskell and his staff to survey the site, David Driskell died at age 88 on April 1, 2020. In light of these circumstances, this report takes a different form, considering potential options for presenting and preserving Driskell's legacy and art that remain in his Hyattsville studio. Since Driskell's death, many questions remain as to how to address his continuing legacy, physical works of art, and personal, intimate, studio spaces. The following report addresses the preservation implications of the following four scenarios: (1) The Artist's studio remains as-is and continues to be used as a private workspace and meeting area for curators and clients; (2) The Artist's studio remains as-in, primarily as a storage site; (3) The Artist's studio is emptied of its contents and is converted to other use; (4) The Artist's studio is preserved and presented to the public as an historic site. A modified Collections for Assessment for Preservation (CAP) survey plan was originally proposed, and it may still be carried out by students in the future. This report attempts to introduce the preservation options for the repurposing of the Hyattsville studio space and its contents.
This project focuses on developing a long-term preservation plan for Professor David C. Driskell's journals by individually assessing the journals and providing proper preventive care guidelines and housing recommendations. Professor David C. Driskell (1931-2020) is highly respected as an artist and an art historian of African American art. The thirty-three Driskell journals, containing Driskell's ideas, influences, and artistic processes, are in demand for exhibition and access by researchers. However, these journals are in a vulnerable state without protective enclosures and environmental controls, thus preventive care guidelines and housing recommendations are made in this report to ensure their longevity and accessibility. To achieve this goal, an item-level assessment survey was completed of fifteen journals in conjunction with a literature review on related topics and consultations with Dr. Joelle Wickens, Dr. Julie McGee, David Conway, and Rodney Moore. The survey consisted of description, condition, and treatment priority questions to properly describe the individual journals and to identify their vulnerabilities and potential risks. The survey data shows most of the journals are currently in good condition with only a few of them in need of minor conservation treatment. On the other hand, the journals are susceptible to damages from light exposure, water disasters, and improper handling, which can commonly occur during exhibition, digitization, and storage. In an effort to mitigate the risks, guidelines of storage, transport, exhibition, and digitization are presented. These guidelines focus on explaining the risks and offering proper support and appropriate environmental conditions, such as temperature, relative humidity, and light levels. In addition, many of the major risks will be mitigated by keeping the journals in archival enclosures. After reviewing the journals, a housing proposal with three enclosure options was submitted to Rodney Moore and Dr. Julie McGee, recommending housing the journals individually in a clamshell box made of acid-free corrugated board, then storing them in one or two larger archival boxes. This project is not fully completed as proposed in the beginning due to COVID-19. There are eighteen more journals to be assessed individually, treatment priorities to be reevaluated, and enclosures to be made for all journals. However, the information provided in this report for the survey and the housing will guide the next person to complete the project, and the preventive care guidelines are highly likely to be applicable in long-term preservation of all thirty-three journals.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Andrea Keefe
Central High School in Philadelphia has a large collection of artworks and cultural artifacts. Teachers and alumni reached out to conservation professionals in hopes of improving the care of these collections. Additionally, the teachers were aiming to increase the awareness of the objects as important artifacts with educational potential. Dust has started to accumulate on their surfaces, and there is evidence of pest activity. Dust can be deleterious to collection items because it can attract pests, it can permanently discolor objects, it can draw moisture to the surfaces of objects, which in turn can increase the rate of corrosion on metal objects and damage the surface of water-sensitive materials. Dust can also become acidic over time. It was decided to implement regular monitoring and housekeeping programs. The monitoring will involve regular checks on susceptible objects to watch for any active corrosion or pest activity. The housekeeping program will be implemented to overall reduce the amount of dust on and near the collections to help mitigate pest activity and active corrosion. The monitoring and housekeeping program will be completed by the students, and instructions and resources for the different programs can be found in an illustrated orientation packet compiled for the students. During the first visit to Central High School, University of Delaware students and teachers were joined by Central High students to perform an item-level survey. The survey aimed to document specific handling considerations for objects and determine a possible dry-surface cleaning protocol. These reports were uploaded onto the online database, where future students and teachers can access them as a reference. Conservation scientist, Dr. Rosie Grayburn was able to bring in a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) to do elemental analysis on some of the organic objects to check for heavy metal pesticides. The XRF was an excellent opportunity to discuss safety considerations when handling collection items as well as a way to discuss how science is so central to the work in art conservation. In the same visit, representatives from the University of Delaware were able to teach to AP Environmental Science courses to discuss how the museum world has adapted integrated pest management from the agriculture industry and how pesticides are often present on older at-risk objects. Some collection objects that showed evidence of pest activity, were anoxically treated to eradicate living pests and reduce the risk of further pest damage In the final visits to the school, the high school students were able to practice object handling and cleaning, while recordings were made for the creation of instructional videos. These videos and in-person training sessions will be imperative to the continuation of the cleaning and monitoring programs. It is hoped that future students at Winterthur and the University of Delaware will continue to work with the students on future projects to grow the collections care protocol and improve the conditions of the art and cultural artifacts at Central High School
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens
This research was conducted in order to assist the Arden Craft Shop Museum in addressing their current and future needs, in regards to the processing, housing, and caring for photographic albums. Photographic albums and the photographs they contain present complex preservation issues for the institutions that safeguard them, due to their composite nature. It can be especially difficult for smaller institutions that are limited in funding, time, and trained personnel. The Arden Craft Shop Museum is an example of such an institution, with limited human and financial resources, that is actively collecting and preserving a wide range of materials, including photograph albums. The Arden Archives Photographic Collection consists of over 4,000 photographs, and while most of the loose photographs have been processed, scanned, uploaded to a searchable online database, and rehoused, the photographic albums have yet to be addressed due to their complex preservation issues. Though complicated, these albums are important because they document the history, values, and life of the three Ardens in both an informational and artifactual manner. In addition, many of them have been donated by members of the community. Thus, these albums strongly align with the museum's mission to collect and exhibit materials and artifacts related to the three Ardens, which include the villages of Arden, Ardentown, and Ardencroft. The ultimate goal of the research was to produce a written protocol that is tailored to the needs of the Arden Craft Shop Museum. In short, it is intended to be a practical protocol that would allow staff and volunteers, of varying skill levels, to process and house photographic albums in a safe and efficient manner. In addition to the written protocol, the institution also received: a summary of research findings (this report); a resource document, which includes a bibliography of potentially helpful references that the institution can use for future problem solving; and a final presentation and brief hands on training session for the Curator & Archivist of the Arden Craft Shop Museum and interested members of the Ardens' Museum and Archives Committee.The information needed for the creation of these documents was gathered and compiled from many sources including: conservation and preservation literature; preservation and rehousing resources; consultations with practicing conservators, conservation students, and archivists; interviews with staff, volunteers, and members of the community in in regards to the value of the collection and its anticipated use and storage; and the collection itself. This project has been made possible as a result of the collaboration of the Arden Craft Shop Museum Curator and Archivist, Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger and the members of the Ardens' Museum and Archives Committee, in addition to the support and guidance of Dr. Joelle Wickens, Dr. Melissa Tedone, and Barbara Lemmen.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens
This research project investigates documentation practices for Robert Rauschenberg's metal paintings with reflective or mirror-like surfaces. In these series, Rauschenberg used metal sheets as substrates for paintings, pushing the boundaries of traditional painting through the use of artificially-induced "tarnishes" created with chemical patinating solutions and polyurethane "resists." The artworks are visually active as their reflective properties include the environment and viewer in the presentation surface. A consequence of the reflectivity is that the artworks are nearly impossible to accurately capture in a static image. Throughout the past few decades, the artworks have been photographed in several ways and never, to the author's knowledge, by a conservator with the sole aim of documenting the artwork's condition. In some instances, the paintings were photographed in a way that captured reflections from the environment (e.g. tripod and camera) in the image. Other times, the images were heavily edited post-capture to remove reflections. Both of these methods produced images that insufficiently recorded the condition of the artwork. As a result, it is difficult to definitively state if and how the artworks have changed over time. The staff at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation have concerns about the copper-based metal paintings darkening. This investigation aims to understand what documentation practices can most accurately record the current condition of the artwork so that a baseline can be established. Three techniques for documenting these artworks are experimentally explored: colorimetry, glossimetry, and digital photography. Mockups with artifically-induced patina and glossy varnish coating were created to test the accuracy and precision of the equipment when recording subtle changes. The mockups were measured with an X-Rite RM200QC Colorimeter and PCE-GM 100 Glossmeter, and photographed with an iPhone 6s and Nikon D850 Full Frame digital SLR camera. The equipment selected was based off of the availability at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Archives and what equipment may be available during Summer 2019 when the author will conduct an onsite condition and collection survey of eleven monumental Copperhead metal paintings. Experimental results indicate that accurate documentation of these metal paintings will require a combination of digital photography, colorimetry, and glossimetry. Colorimetry can be used to record color changes over time, but has limitations depending on the size and texture of the space being measured. Glossimetry can precisely record changes in gloss, but different geometries should be recorded depending on the area of the painting being measured. Digital photography is useful for recording larger areas of tarnishes, for capturing topography, and for documenting measurement locations, but alone it is insufficient for accurately and precisely documenting the current conditions, color, and gloss of the metal painting's presentation surface. Additional research is needed to develop an effective and reproducible protocol for the Foundation's digital handbook that quantitatively tracks changes over time. In addition to greatly adding to the body of knowledge about the aging of Rauschenberg's artworks, this research has broader implications within the field of art conservation, specifically in documenting any artwork with a reflective surface (e.g. mirrors, plastics, etc) or with artist-induced patina layers.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Dr. Rosie Grayburn
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was an artist who worked across many different media throughout his long and prolific career. He started the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF) in 1990 and by 2010, its mission grew to include promoting the research and understanding of his work and to promote other artists and initiatives working in multi-disciplinary categories of art-making. RRF holds two and three-dimensional artworks by Rauschenberg made from many types of materials. A non-exhaustive list includes traditional canvas paintings, found-object sculptures, photographs, and textiles. The artworks are housed in a storage facility where they are contained and protected using different methods and materials. Some of these materials have not been tested for their suitability for use in short (up to 6 months) or long-term storage (6+ months), including Dartek (nylon) and polyethylene films, glassine, and pressure-sensitive tapes. A review of the literature was performed to understand the history of use and/or manufacturing process for these products. In order to understand the potential effects these materials may have on various artworks in long-term storage, both qualitative and quantitative measures are necessary. The Oddy test was used to gain an initial impression of materials that may be of concern noted through visual inspection of corrosion products on metal coupons. The coupons are exposed to the off-gassing compounds emitted from storage materials in an enclosed, humified, and heated environment. The results indicated that all of the materials tested would be unsuitable for permanent, long-term storage, particularly when multiple materials are combined together. In particular, the paper-backed artist tape caused visible changes in materials near it, such as discoloration of the silicone stoppers and tactile shifts in Dartek. This tape was the poorest performer, though the other two varieties that were tested also tested unsuitable for long-term use. Dartek also failed the Oddy test for long-term storage. Glassine and polyethylene sheeting were found to be suitable for short-term use by themselves, but are not suitable, generally, when mixed with other materials. The next stage in this investigation will be to conduct headspace solid-phase micro-extraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GCMS), which will provide detailed data about volatile organic compounds (VOC's) emitted from the materials. The Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library will obtain access to this instrument in Fall 2019 when this research will continue. Recommendations for the Foundation are offered concerning monitoring of environmental conditions in the storage facility and their use of these particular materials moving forward. It is anticipated that future analysis will provide more detailed information that will be shared with the Foundation
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Laura Wahl
Libraries and archives are continuously acquiring material to serve their dual missions of preserving and making accessible records of the past and present for the benefit of their patrons. Acquiring discrete collections with original organizational value poses questions about the ethical and material choices the institution should make when physically integrating the new objects into their existing collection. When the original organization must be preserved, some sacrifices may be necessary to incorporate a new collection if its current state does not promote long-term preservation, which is one half of a library or archive's mission. However, rehousing collections to replace poor-quality housing and to fit a new storage location can lead to dissociation, or the separation of an object from the contextual information critical to understanding it. Honoring the collection's original organization while balancing preventive conservation and access is key to effective preservation. The main research objective of this project was a survey of the Margolies collection to determine rehousing recommendations for its many constituent objects that balance the collector's original organization with Hagley's long-term preservation concerns. Hagley Library staff could not physically begin cataloging and rehousing objects from the collection without such a survey, which helped illuminate the types of material most abundant in the collection, its current housing, and if or how that housing should be altered for permanent storage in the stacks. Secondary research goals for Hagley included formulating a rehousing strategy that would optimize digitization of collections material for publication and advertising, and streamlining ethical and material choices when rehousing these collections in the future. This survey also provided the WUDPAC student a valuable experience in surveying archival and special collections materials in preparation for future preventive conservation activities, as a conservator either from an institution or in private practice. Recommending safe and efficient housing solutions that can be implemented in a timely manner is an important aspect of any rehousing project. Scrapbooks, albums, personal archives, and similar multimedia collections are frequently absorbed into archival collections, and results of this survey will be made available to other institutions or private collectors in need of similar solutions.
Over the course of the last six months, a technique for the real-time, in-situ collection of light exposure data has been employed in the Billiard Room of the Winterthur Museum as well as in the first floor Dining Room of the Thomas Everard House and the Porch Room of the Wetherburn's Tavern, both of which are located at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The goal of this study is to refine a technique for the real-time collection and processing of natural light data in museum spaces and historic interiors that reflects the impact of seasonal changes over the course of a year. The protocol is to be deployed with a minimum of technical expertise, regular maintenance, or cost, while still yielding valuable results that inform a comprehensive understanding of risks posed by natural light in museum spaces. The team of collaborators from the Winterthur Museum and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, thus, aim to establish a methodology for this data collection and processing technique that could be adopted by a broad range of institutions with minimal demands on available resources. The method begins with the collection of data in the form of jpeg images. In-situ cameras capture the images at regular intervals over the course of a day and will run continuously for at least one year. To date the experimental technique has resulted in the collection of approximately 39,928 images by each of the four cameras deployed across the Winterthur Museum and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Given the volume of the raw image data collected via this technique, it is necessary to develop a means by which the information can be uniformly processed to render a more compact summation of the image data for interpretation, evaluation, and communication to the interested parties. The processing of the raw image data as such also facilitates the evaluation of the data collection methodology as a whole. The methodology's efficacy is, thus, measured with regard to its usefulness to interested parties internally, and compared against alternative techniques, which derive similar information through predictive algorithms based on modeling the environmental and architectural contexts. The purpose of this portion of the project is to develop a workflow for processing the data, which has thus far been collected as individual jpeg images. The workflow will seek to pose a method for the normalization of images as well as a process for their organization that will aim to facilitate their combination into useful tool for the interpretation of the light exposure data. The combination of images will be achieved by stacking them as individual layers and the resulting image will seek to illustrate the cumulative light exposure in rooms photographed. Though this will likely be a qualitative model, suggestions will also be made for steps aimed at the extrapolation of quantitative information.
This project focuses on the varying needs of traditional East Asian items from the Kislak Center. Select items from Penn Libraries' Special Collections were surveyed, from which preservation strategies were developed for similar materials at the Kislak. Within the items surveyed, these books spanned from the early 16th-century to 1950. The majority of books consisted primarily of paper bound in a thread binding format. Most had plain or decorative paper covers. Both text and cover papers appeared to be made from similarly thin, flexible, and delicate paper. While numerous condition issues were present, of the items surveyed, many were in fair condition, indicating that the collection is stable. The majority of the collection is housed, with only a handful of items in need of housing. As thin and delicate paper comprises the majority of items surveyed, recommendations focused on preventing new or further damage to this type of paper. Traditional East Asian books should be supported by a cradle covered with a soft cloth. When not in use, they should be stored in well-fitting archival housing. A long-term goal of performing conservation treatment and digitization will further address damage in this collection and enhance accessibility.
This research was conducted in order to determine what questions need to be asked in order to preserve magnetic photograph albums in special collections. The project was directly inspired by my second-year technical study in which I characterized materials in three magnetic albums using analytical instrumentation. One of the albums belonged to the University of Delaware Library Special Collections and was cared for by Manuscripts Librarian and Curator Rebecca Johnson Melvin. Through meetings with Ms. Melvin and her team, the challenges of processing, cataloguing, and preserving magnetic albums in a large research library were explored. These interdisciplinary meetings comprised of curators, librarians, archivists, and conservators were ideal and necessary for the first edition of the "Decision Tree for the Preservation of Magnetic Photograph Albums in Special Collections." Decision trees are useful for simplifying large and complex problems that do not present a straightforward answer. Often times, there is a risk-benefit analysis associated with such problems. By breaking down the problem into a decision tree composed of logical yes and no questions, the problem becomes more approachable and manageable. A preservation decision tree is a living document that can be used many times over the course of an object's lifetime. This is the first edition of the "Decision Tree for the Preservation of Magnetic Photograph Albums in Special Collections" and experiential feedback from the field is wanted. The tree will become more refined and practical as more people use it and provide feedback.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Emily Hamilton
This paper aims to characterize the current practices museums are instituting in regard to rapid prototype materials. This is accomplished through a survey of conservators from a variety of institutions collecting r.p. materials, interviews with 3D print labs known to work both commercially and in collaboration with artists, and a year-long partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) to study their r.p. materials and acquisition documentation. The results of the survey indicate that the current practice for the environmental parameters of rapid prototype materials is based largely on the base class of material (plastic, metal, ceramic, etc.) but little research has been conducted to understand the most optimal preservation needs of these materials. These results indicate that there is a need for the development of that standardization of r.p. materials including: an ideal standard of information obtained at the time of acquisition, documentation practices, and storage and display parameters based on specific materials. Additionally, the ethics of reprinting and file acquisition should be discussed more broadly as a field. Similar to the trajectory of time-based media and software-based artworks, the conservation of r.p. objects require standardization of terminology, acquisition information, and more importantly collaborative conversations with both artists/designers and 3D print labs to more holistically understand the tangible and intangible elements we aim to preserve.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens
The Delaware Historical Society Research Library holds a varied collection of resources serving the Delaware community. The library and archive materials span over a 150 years of Delaware history and are available free to the public as part of the statewide historical institution's broader mission of preserving and promoting awareness of local heritage through a program of educational services, exhibitions, and research library access. In 2008, a collection of audiovisual materials from Arden Films was donated to the library, containing a mixture of format types and a range of subject matter, covering events in the state of Delaware that date back to the early 20th century. This project focuses on characterizing the contents, describing the condition, and gathering data that could be used to inform collection management decisions for the Research Library staff as they process the collection. An overall inventory of the film and magnetic media in the collection, including select content information, format descriptions, and condition were summarized in a temporary database, and a general condition survey based on a set percentage of the materials was performed. Information was generated through site visits, discussions with library staff, and from data and research conducted via literature searches and workshop attendance on the preservation and care of audiovisual materials. The goal of a condition survey based solely on visual inspection of the materials was to provide options, not only to care for the collection as funding and resources become available, but for the staff to weigh their alternatives based on practicality. A few action streams are possible, including: 1) choosing a representative from each format type and conducting a pilot program wherein the full condition examination, treatment, and creation of a preservation master is completed and used as procedural model; 2) the most unstable films are frozen and open-reel magnetic media (the most expensive to treat and duplicate) are placed in cool storage to slow degradation, while videocassettes are reformatted or digitized perhaps with the assistance of a local institution willing to loan the use of their playback equipment at a nominal cost; 3) upgrading the housing and making improvements to the environment overall in order to stabilize the collection and allow staff to catalog the collection and perform an item-level survey—to name a few. The results of the survey indicated that several film-based and open-reel full-coat magnetic audiotape materials are in severe condition and require conservation before the content can be accessed. Other films in moderate states of physical and chemical condition are at the brink of rapid decline under the current storage conditions. Videocassettes are most at risk of format and equipment obsolescence, signifying the need for reformatting or digitization and requiring the services of an audiovisual specialist with access to the appropriate playback equipment to assess condition while viewing the content for collection relevance. Optical media items, while in good physical condition, are in danger due to the integrity of their digital information and successful data retrieval will largely depend on the types of files contained on the discs and whether the appropriate software and hardware are available to access the content. The final report summarizes the author's findings on the present state of the film and magnetic media in the Arden collection and presents suggestions for improving housing, storage, and the environmental conditions of the collection space to prolong the lifespan of these materials. Assigned prioritization for conservation or preservation actions, discussion of the observations made during the survey, and recommendations based on the condition of the items is given for each format type. Included is an estimated budget for materials for improving the current housing of the Arden collection, as well as investments in tools, equipment, and training for continuing inspection of the collection in-house. The Delaware Historical Society aims to apply for additional funding in their next capital campaign, and the information compiled in this project will be used to advocate the Research Library's need for an upgraded storage environment to preserve the diverse collection of culturally significant moving image and sound recordings under their care.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens andDilia Lopez-Gydosh
Research aimed to determine methods for reorganizing the current storage space for the University of Delaware Historic Costume and Textiles collection to maximize space for the safe hanging storage of items from the growing collection within the existing storage footprint. The project also examined ways that the existing storage could be improved to mitigate the potential risk of harm from water, light, dust accumulation, and other concerns. Suggestions for the implementation of routine preventive activities are included in the recommendations that resulted from examination of the storage space. Information about the current structure and conditions of the storage space was gathered and analyzed to inform recommendations. Data collection involved light, temperature, relative humidity, and dust monitoring over a 26-day period. Results suggest that the collection items currently stored in open hanging storage are exposed to light and dust accumulation that may have detrimental long-term effects. These areas would greatly benefit from an opaque dust cover to mitigate the effects of light and dust accumulation. It would also be beneficial for the material chosen to cover the collections to have the ability to guard against water damage, given the location of the fire suppression sprinkler heads in the collection. Several materials are proposed for this purpose, with considerations about the strengths and weaknesses of each. Examination of the flat storage wing yielded several suggestions for modification to increase the amount of hanging storage space available. These options include modification of the built-in storage closets and cabinets to accommodate hanging storage, which would provide additional space for hanging collections while preserving storage area for flat textiles and other objects. The second proposed modification involves the removal of the built-in storage furniture and replacement with a hanging storage system like that of the main storage room. The second option would likely provide space for a greater number of garments, but would require more invasive construction. Evaluation of the collections storage space illustrated a number of preventive concerns that should be addressed. Resources and guidelines pertaining to general preventive conservation activities and the care of synthetic materials within textile collections have been compiled to aid in caring for the collection, to be used by staff, students, and volunteers. This provides an additional avenue for the collection to serve its mission of providing a platform for experiential learning and research, centered on the fundamentals of collections care.
The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs (DHCA), located in Dover, DE, is home to approximately 20,000 finds associated with the De Braak shipwreck, including ceramic, metal, glass, wood, textile, and leather materials. Originally constructed by the Dutch and later captured and retrofitted by the English, the De Braak was a well-known sloop that capsized off of the coast of Lewes, Delaware in May of 1798 (Nasca 2017). Excavated in 1984 and later bought from private owners by the state of Delaware (DHCA homepage; Putman 2013, 75), the collection is now used by researchers, students, and archaeologists to better understand maritime life in the 18th century. A major component and resource in the De Braak materials is a large collection of reconstructed and fragmented leather footwear, currently in need of rehousing. Through site visits, a survey, prototyping, and research, this project provides a summary of the contents of the De Braak leather shoe collection, its condition, the risks associated with the current storage methods utilized at the DHCA, and recommendations for improvements to the storage mounts and labeling system for future collection-wide implementation. An initial site visit, a collection survey, and an interview with the curator of Archaeology at the DHCA pinpointed the needs and concerns associated with the leather collection. The report summarizes the storage and condition survey and assessment, outlining a more holistic view of the collection and its future rehousing needs. Three shoes, each representative of the varying conditions and shapes of the shoes in the DHCA shoe collection, were brought to Winterthur Museum for the purposes of prototyping a rehousing system. The shoes were transported with their original supports illustrating the varying storage methods currently in use in the collection. The goal of the project was to develop a prototype for storage and display that took into account a better understanding of the needs of the shoes, the appropriate methods and materials to be used, a possible budget, and effectiveness of the chosen housing and labeling system. As outlined in the report, a tray system with a foam and tissue internal support was recommended. It was also recommended that additional Tyvek external straps with magnetic closures be used to provide needed external support and non-invasive labeling. The construction method developed was thoroughly laid out in the report with detailed instructions, illustrations, required materials, and sources. Based on this study, a possible budget was outlined. The method finally chosen was simple and easily adjustable to various shoe forms and sizes with minimal modifications. This allows for future collection-wide implementation and ultimately facilitates safe handling and easier access to this rich collection. An annotated bibliography was also provided in the appendices for further reference and reading, providing additional helpful information on the implementation of this system and for any future rehousing projects undertaken by the DHCA.
There are two works in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's (SFMOMA) collection; a piece by Robert Rauschenberg entitled Trophy IV (for John Cage) (1961) and Souvenir (1964) by Jasper Johns. Both of the works are mixed-media assemblage containing conventional, found objects. The link between these two works is that each has a flashlight incorporated into the composition that is no longer functioning. Whether the flashlights were previously illuminated as part of the exhibition of these pieces is not concretely understood; it is the opinion of curatorial staff at SFMOMA that the light source is integral to the Johns work, but not necessarily to the Rauschenberg. In order to make the decision to reintegrate a light source, options for simulation were researched; this research began with assessing the flashlights and their bulb type. Access to these flashlights was limited, as they are on display and cannot be investigated beyond visual assessment from a distance. By engaging other parties outside of the museum/conservation setting, information pertaining to the flashlight model, the battery type, and most importantly the bulb type has been investigated; furthermore, a better understanding of light quality assessment has been attained. Using this information as well as information gained from a literature review, options for light assessment have been outlined. These options range from the most basic approach to more advanced, idealized methods. Finally, a more accessible method was attempted on-site using a USB spectrometer typically used in Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS) with the assistance of Winterthur scientist Dr. Jocelyn Alcantara-Garcia. Ideally, a reliable method for light quality assessment using a handful of accessible and comparably affordable tools and equipment available at Winterthur Museum would have been designed and implemented. While the FORS spectrometer provided color information not accessible with other available tools, it appears that the bands may be too broad and generalized to accurately compare two light sources. With the acquisition of a more accurate spectroradiometer, the light quality of the original light source could be better assessed and compared to current light technology altered with filters. Further research will focus on recreating or simulating a light source similar to those that are part of the Rauschenberg and Johns works, and determining whether this intervention is appropriate. Finally, exploration into how this project and treatment can engage the public will be undertaken at a later date on-site in San Francisco. This project may be viewed as an exciting and potentially interactive peak into how the artworks were originally used or intended to be exhibited; it will also make for an excellent opportunity to invite practicing artists to discuss their ideas on artist intent and how conservation can aid in preserving that intent.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Michael C. Henry
George Nakashima (1905-1990) was an American woodworker and architect considered the father of the American craft movement. He also founded the George Nakashima Institute for Peace to promote global peace by crafting of peace altars for each continent. The nineteen buildings on Nakashima's estate near New Hope, Pennsylvania still function as a home and workshop for the Nakashima family and the complex was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 2013. The Arts Building is one particularly notable structure on the estate. Nakashima designed it in 1964-1967 to serve as a gallery for the artwork of his friend Ben Shahn (1898-1965).The unique hyperbolic paraboloid roof of the building is of special interest to historic preservationists. Today, the building is used for events and houses furniture, furniture prototypes, drawings, and archival materials in addition to objects and works associated with Ben Shahn (Historic Structures Report, 2013). A research project was carried out in the winter and spring of 2015-2016 to investigate the preventive conservation needs of the objects housed within the Arts Center. This project was designed to compliment analysis of the building being carried out by Michael C. Henry, Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and his team. The project included two site visits, data collection and analysis and the development of recommendations for mitigating preservation risks. The site visits involved the examination and general inventory of the objects within the building. A wide range of wooden furniture, metal sculptures, textiles, small wooden sculptures and tools, paper mache figurines, and a variety of composite objects were observed. In addition to visual examination and literature research into the sensitivities of each category of material, four data loggers were placed in early March 2016 to monitor temperature, relative humidity, and light levels. The project restrictions allowed for one month of data collection. From this data general trends were noted and differences between the areas of the building could be extrapolated. The mezzanine in particular showed the highest light levels and largest fluctuations in temperature, likely due to stack effect and the influx of sunlight through the many windows. With the completion of site visits and data analysis a final report was compiled that outlines the project methodology and contains a chart explaining the risks of each major material category and a list of representative objects at risk, including two metal Harry Bertoia sculptures and an original 1969 Ed Fields rug. The report also interprets the environmental and light data and provides recommendations for mitigating preservation risks. Some of the recommendations include moving sensitive objects to different locations within the building, and utilizing curtains and screens for improved light mitigation.
Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania includes the Design Center, which offers a unique experience to students of design and fashion. The 1955 Hollywood ranch-style home, also known the Goldie Paley House, was designed by architect Earle Bolton, Jr., and houses an extensive textile and costume collection used frequently for teaching and research. The primary staff member of the Design Center is Marcella Martin, who works with the collection as a curator, teacher, and collections manager. Prior to the appointment of Ms. Martin, the university less frequently utilized the collection. The Design Center collection is housed in a historic building with limitations for environmental control. Inconsistently written or absent policies fail to address key preventive issues like pest management, temperature and humidity control, visitor guidelines, and emergency planning. Procedures in place are not readily accessible to the Philadelphia University administrators or incoming interns and volunteers in the space. The challenges of maintaining a safe environment in a historic building have placed the frequently accessed collections at risk. A modified Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) survey was conducted at the Design Center in May 2015. The WUDPAC Class of 2017, including the author, visited the site to observe the general condition of the historic building and its collections. Observations, conclusions, and suggestions were compiled into reports for the institution's use. Following the CAP survey exercise, major initiatives and reorganization at the Design Center, such as increased security, deep-cleaning, and new shelving, have provided a safer collections environment overall. The current project focuses on institutional policy writing and builds on the work established by the modified CAP survey. New policies aim to create practical guidelines improving the preservation of the Design Center collections, including pest management and temperature and relative humidity controls. Students and researchers interested in textiles and fashion history are invested in access to the collection and will benefit from improvements to long-term stability. The momentum to continue improving the long-term stability of this important resource is aided by policies to assess and address risks for the collection. Recommendations and policies targeting known issues, specifically pest management and climate control, support the Design Center staff advocating for collections care and communicating with university administrators. Development and implementation of these policies involves dedicated training for the Design Center staff, interns, volunteers, facilities specialists, and contractors entering the collections spaces. Understanding the common goal to preserve the Design Center materials and the educational opportunities that they provide can create a supportive and collaborative preservation environment.
The Archives at Longwood Gardens holds several collections which contain mixed audio/visual material. These objects document events and everyday life at the estate since the time of the founder, Pierre S. DuPont, and represent a valuable resource that is often consulted for internal research or media production. This student project focuses on identifying the current preservation risks associated with the collection and making recommendations for the systematic preservation of these objects. The primary goals of the project were to provide the Archives with the information necessary to approach the mitigation of risks and implement best practice preservation strategies within their means in terms of budget, staffing, and time. Previous to the current project, the collections were inventoried at the item level by a student intern in an effort to gain intellectual control over the materials. This inventory served as a valuable resource, providing information on format and condition of each object. In addition to consulting the inventory, data and research for the project was gathered via site visits, communication with Archives staff, and a thorough literature search. The report details specific information regarding the current condition of the materials and provides a commentary on the appropriateness of the current storage environment for the long-term preservation of the various materials. Based on this information, recommendations are given regarding the storage environment and enclosures, handling protocols, and general reformatting procedures. An outline of specific preservation actions, organized by short- medium- and long-term time frames, is given for each format category. A schema for prioritization of objects for preservation reformatting is presented, taking into account both condition information and informational value for the various collections. It was found that the current storage space, while climate-controlled, does not meet the requirements for the safe storage of the audio/visual formats present in the Longwood collections. As the storage environment is carefully controlled by temperature set points designed for the control of the relative humidity, it is recommended that the humidity be controlled in another way so that lower temperatures may be maintained. Some of the objects should be moved from the space. It was found that improved preservation standards for the majority of the collections can be achieved through the implementation of cold storage. However, some formats, such as magnetic media and optical discs, can be damaged by such storage. As a result, the report advocates the separation of the collection between different storage environments. Finally, a long-term goal of total digitization is recommended for the collection. Literature sources suggest this is the only promising method of long-term preservation for audio/visual materials. The barriers for digitization are discussed, including cost, time, and expertise. The report seeks to provide support in the completion of this goal by offering a method of prioritizing collection material for digitization, as well as by recommending preservation procedures which will slow the decay of the materials in question, allowing more time for the strategic implementation of a reformatting plan.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Elena Torok
There are many versions of the Oddy Test, which is used in the field of conservation to assess the safety and stability of materials in proximity to works of art and artifacts. This research compares three versions of the test and attempts to identify one that provides the most reliable and reproducible results. Other factors, including ease of set up, time required, and cost are examined. Each version includes different testing materials and procedures, and each was compared to determine whether all capture the same information. The results show how the many variations of the Oddy test have significant effects on the outcomes of test results. It is hoped that this may encourage the field to examine the possibility of adopting a single unified method of testing in the future. The three versions of the Oddy test examined were the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) vapor-based protocol, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) contact-based protocol, and the Walters Art Museum (WAM) contact-based protocol. 2 runs of testing were completed, testing 4 materials and a control 3 times per run, for a total of 15 tests per variation, or 45 tests per run. A third run of testing will be completed in the near future but was outside the scope of this project. The materials tested were cotton muslin, plywood sawdust, a floor tile sample, and black Volara foam. It was expected that the cotton fabric would pass the Oddy test, the sawdust would fail, and the remaining two samples would give less clear, perhaps temporary results. After testing, it was found that the cotton fabric caused corrosion on the lead coupons. The wood shavings produced the expected failing results, and the two remaining samples produced a mixture of results between temporary and failing. Additionally, the lead control coupons in the IMA test corroded more than the control coupons from the other tests. It is unclear why this occurred but may be a result of the materials used. It was clear from comparisons of contact versus vapor results that contact produces more severe changes to the coupons. For materials that will be in direct contact with susceptible works of art, it is advisable to perform a contact-based Oddy test to ensure no negative effects will occur. It was also found that the different Oddy test variations provided different results for the same sample, though the differences were less significant than expected.
Byne's efflorescence, also called Bynesian decay or historically referred to as Byne's disease, is an irreversible damage common in both mollusk and bird egg shell collections caused by moisture and acids interacting with the shell's calcium carbonate composition to produce salt efflorescence. The resulting efflorescence can compromise the structural and visual integrity of the affected object, and if unchecked, can lead to the destruction of the specimen. As specimens capture a snapshot of a species at a particular period of time, the objects are important materials that are essentially irreplaceable. The storage of shell collections can be problematic, as wooden or acidic paper-based storage materials can off-gas acidic products and contribute to environmental conditions conducive to the development of Byne's efflorescence. Therefore, it is imperative that shell collections be monitored and properly housed to negate the possibility of the development of Byne's efflorescence. This project addressed how Byne's efflorescence is identified and mitigated in a large shell collection, with a focus on the DMNH's land snail specimens. The DMNH's collection of mollusks, containing over two million specimens, is one of the top twelve shell collections in the United States (Delaware Museum of Natural History 2015). The entirety of the collection, with the exception of type specimens, is housed in cabinets with wooden components, therefore, it is vital to identify and mitigate irreversible degradation caused by Byne's efflorescence to ensure the longevity and continued scientific value of the collection. The evaluation of current practices in identifying and dealing with Bynesian decay, the evaluation of the current condition of the land snail collection and housing environment, and the established protocol for future care of the shell collections can be used by the DMNH staff to assess and mitigate Byne's efflorescence in the collection. Additionally, as the DMNH is applying for grant funding to improve current housing of the land snail shell collection, the information compiled for this project will further aid to justify the need for an upgrade in the storage of the collection as well as demonstrate some of the steps taken by the DMNH to actively protect the shells from potential decay. The research is applicable to all of the shell collections, however, the assessment was specifically of the land snail shells due to the size of the collection and the upcoming grant proposal. This project compiled research, on-site investigations, and surveys to fully assess the collection. The survey and the testing of the quantity of acetic acid in the storage environment concluded that there is a risk for Byne's efflorescence, however, the amount of Byne's efflorescence in the sampled cabinets was low. Despite this, other preservation concerns were identified, particularly the evidence of past carpet beetle infestations in the storage cabinets, which have the potential to spread to other parts of the collection that have higher concentrations of organic materials. The research and protocols established for this project can be applied to other portions of their shell collection and require no outside assistance for implementation. Therefore, the DMNH staff can continue their care for the collection in-house.
The Mariam Coffin Canaday Library is the main branch of the Bryn Mawr College Libraries. It houses the humanities and social science collections, Special Collections, and the College Archives, and the audiovisual collection is found within these collections. The audiovisual media collection is a vital component of the Canaday Library's holdings. It documents the history of the college, from fiction to documentary materials, oral histories to art and artifacts. These materials document the college throughout its long and storied history, capturing lectures and speeches from prominent faculty and alumni. The tradition of oral histories continues today, particularly through the Greenfield Center for Women's History. The films document the college and are produced either by alumni or for college events. The preservation of audiovisual media can be challenging, particularly in an environment that was built to house books and paper. Audiovisual media requires a specific knowledge of materials that range from obsolete, such as cylinders and disks, to currently changing at a rapid rate, such as digital files. This report is a preservation plan that serves to provide a basic understanding of the magnetic media and film collection, per the request of the Canaday Library staff. This includes a chronology of the media and a discussion of the materials, symptoms of deterioration, and possible avenues for repair. The report also addresses next steps in preserving the collection, such as surveying the collection, improving the storage conditions, and digitizing or reformatting the highest value items. The Canaday Library staff characterized the audiovisual collection as consisting of film reels, audio reels, audio cassettes, VHS tapes, and one digital artwork. The film reels are in their own category of media type, and the remaining formats fall under the category of magnetic media. This distinction is important when examining the condition of the media. The most common types of decay and damage found in film reels include mechanical damage; mold, mildew, and fungus; acetate decay; shrinkage, color fading, nitrate decay, and magnetic track deterioration. The useful life of magnetic media collections may be limited to the structure and components of magnetic media and their inherent stability. The tape substrate, the nature of the magnetic particles, the binder, and any other additives may all be important factors in determining the longevity of magnetic media. One of the first steps in preserving this collection is gathering a team of experts to survey it in order to gain a better understanding of what it contains and what condition it is in. This includes an outside expert of audiovisual materials to identify the materials and evaluate their condition, as well as a library staff member who understands the collection and can perform value assessments in terms of the objects' role in the collection as a whole. The assessment system created in this survey can also be incorporated into the acquisition process and workflow. Finally, another recommendation is improving the storage environments to incorporate cold or frozen storage, as this is the ideal environment for audiovisual media, regardless of their condition.
Mold is one of the most serious causes of damage to cultural heritage collections. Mold has the capacity to sit dormant for years and propagate within twenty-four hours. Mold can cause aesthetic and physical damage to a variety of materials as well as pose human health risks. Stewards of cultural heritage collections are responsible monitoring mold outbreaks, but detection can sometimes be unclear. Current preventive conservation literature provides ample information on the structure of mold and types of mold known to attack materials within the cultural heritage sector. Information on mold outbreak response and health and safety is also continually updated. What remains widely unpublished is a clear rubric to distinguish between mold, surface stains, and other accretions written for the cultural heritage arena. If more methods to confirm the detection of mold exist, conservators, librarians, archivists, and collections managers would be able to make more informed assessments of their current and incoming collections. Viable methods for mold detection were identified through literature review, site visits, and two workshops. The outcome of this study was the creation of a mold detection worksheet for use on off-site assessments for potential acquisitions. Tools such as pressure-sensitive tape, flashlights, and personal protective equipment are required for the kit and a list of supplies accompanies the worksheet. Additionally, a case study on a mold detection product was conducted and assessed for inclusion in the kit. Further research is needed to fully assess the efficacy of these techniques and additional methods would be very beneficial. With practice, there are simple and effective ways to initially detect mold in collections.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Dr. Joyce Hill Stoner
This report summarizes the results of a 2015 survey of the analog and digital materials contained in the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC)'s Oral History Project Archive, currently housed in the Winterthur Museum Archives. Since 1975, Joyce Hill Stoner has lead the Oral History Project, an initiative to collect interviews of living conservators and early records associated with the conservation profession. The archive houses records for over 600 conservators and institutions, including those by influential conservators such as George L. Stout, Ann Clapp, Harold Plenderleith, Caroline Keck, and others. As no prior survey of the collection had been conducted, the author sought to identify the formats of physical and digital materials present in the collection. More than 27,000 objects and digital files were recorded in the archive, which is made up of paper materials, photographs, negatives and slides, magnetic media, film reels, and digital files. As a result, the preservation needs of the FAIC Oral History Project Archives were identified. Recommendations were made for digitization of at-risk materials, prioritizing digitization and treatment of CDs, film reels, and magnetic media. Suggestions for the long-term maintenance of the archive were provided, including recommendations for guidelines or policy in the acquisition and collection management of future archive materials.
The Heritage Health Index showed that limited trained staff and resources are often responsible for handling collections both large in materials as well as numbers throughout the United States. The situation can be even more exacerbated in places where there are few museum training programs, and limited connections to professional networks and supplies. Aside from the broad requirements of the work needing to be accurate and efficient regardless of location, specific needs for preventive conservation resources can be identified primarily within the framework of monitoring and mitigating the 10 Agents of Deterioration. Where the framework was limiting the scope of preventive tasks, those needs outside of it, most notably documentation and communication, were also identified. Additional context of the significance of each area was provided by a survey conducted by the Collections Care Network that reported how time was spent on various activities. Concurrent to this framework development, research was performed into the technological capabilities illustrated by existing apps by completing an app design course and by learning about those apps utilized by other professions and areas of interest. This revealed that mobile technology is widely available and utilized to get information. It has reached a high level of sophistication, with multiple features of both the hardware and software to be potentially exploited: touchscreen access, the ability to handle multiple types of content, a high megapixel camera, communication systems, GPS and motion sensing features. Apps are designed at relatively low cost by individuals to use these features to provide an interface to access information in easier, innovative ways. Even though this describes desirable characteristics in a resource, the cultural heritage sector chronically under-utilizes this technology. A literature review showed that there are now numerous examples of apps for museums, designed for both public and staff users. However, they often do not exploit the technological features of mobile technology but rather serve as a different format for the same type of data, or one concept is used in cookie-cutter fashion across numerous institutions. Conservation-specific uses are even more limited, and focus by and large on Photoshop-like documentation projects. What this project suggests though is that many of the needs can be met through the development of apps that use existing technological capabilities, applied to the service of preventive conservation in new ways. Ideas for each of the 10 Agents of Deterioration and the additional categories are suggested, along with examples of current apps that illustrate the technology that would be required. These are meant to serve as suggestions in an on-going discussion, rather than to be taken as comprehensive, and the project concluded with a look at how future development could be done. Previous app development projects from the cultural heritage sector, often with collaborators, have used a variety of approaches, from hosting hackathons to posting open-source data. It is therefore believed that useful and innovative apps based on existing technology can be made in a cost-effective manner to address needs in the performance of preventive conservation tasks.
The Mutter Museum is a medical history collection housed within The College of Physicians on 22nd Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is open daily to the public, excluding major holidays, hosts special evening events for the College and the Museum, and rents the space for public use. Care and display standards of the collection have improved steadily in recent years, however limited staff and resources restricts the amount of time and funding devoted to preventive conservation issues. Over the last five years it has been observed by members of staff the increasing popularity of the museum resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of off-the-street visitors from approximately 60,000 to 138,000 people a year. This observation has called into question the impact of such a large number of visitors to the objects on display. The goal of this research project is to investigate the current impact of visitors to objects on display in gallery spaces of the Mutter Museum. On-site observations were conducted in three site visits between February 28 and April 28, 2014, which included interviewing staff members, observing visitor interaction with the collection and circulation through the gallery spaces, a brief survey of the objects and material types on exhibit, noting locations of environmental monitoring equipment, and type and placement of lighting fixtures. Data collection and analysis included dust collection using the sticky sampler method developed by the National Trust, analysis of temperature and relative humidity data from pre-existing Hobo data loggers, collection of visible and ultraviolet light with T&D data loggers, and data analysis with the aid of eclimatenotebook.com. Findings of the study indicate the most significant risk to the objects on exhibit in gallery spaces due to visitor circulation and activity are vibrations, while a secondary risk is dust deposition. Visitors do not appear to have a significant effect on relative humidity, temperature, and light, however data analysis indicates that while the environmental control systems are doing a fair job regulating the environment for the long-term care of the objects, improvements can be made to optimize systems currently in place for improved control of fluctuations in relative humidity. Overall the Mutter Museum would benefit enormously from the implementation of a systematic and practical vibration and environmental monitoring program for all five exhibition galleries. Recommendations include streamlining the current monitoring system with the redistribution of Hobo data loggers to exclude redundant data collection, and monitor vibrations in areas of high and low visible and perceived vibrations. Such a program would provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the influences of vibrations and environmental conditions on a medical history collection.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Joan Irving
The Archives of Longwood Gardens consists primarily of paper-based objects such as books, manuscripts, documents, and photographic materials. In addition to these materials, the Archives encompasses all non-plant collections within the institution including textiles, furniture, and three-dimensional objects. Systematically, the institution would like to implement a long-term preventive conservation plan for its collections. During Spring 2014, two second-year graduate fellows specializing in the conservation of paper-based and photographic materials worked with staff at the Archives to develop preventive conservation guidelines for rehousing three specific collections. The students also provided a preliminary assessment of environmental data collected in Archives' storage areas and offered guidelines to improve data collection practice and interpretation. Throughout the course of this project, the students worked primarily with the following Longwood staff: David Sleasman, Library and Information Services Coordinator; Judy Stevenson, Archivist; and Sandy Reber, Archivist. From the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), Professors Joelle Wickens and Joan Irving served as primary advisors to this project. Prior to the start of the Spring semester, the students met with David, Judy, and Joan to conduct a preliminary review of the Archives' storage spaces, current environmental monitoring practice and to identify specific collections for which rehousing protocols would be designed. The students, Archives staff, and WUDPAC faculty jointly selected three collections of institutional significance that are at risk of deterioration or damage in their current storage housing and occupy a large volume within the Archives. The three collections selected were paper organ rolls; large-format architectural drawings and blueprints; and color slides. Rehousing recommendations took into account the way in which the collections are accessed by staff and made an effort to minimize the footprint increase while providing solutions that would better serve the collections. With the focus of the recommendations being the protection of collection materials from physical damage and dust accumulation; and minimizing the impact of fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity in non-climate-controlled storage areas. To develop recommendations for each collection, assessments were conducted through a series of site visits. The site visits were scheduled with Archives' staff at the beginning of the spring semester and occurred once a month, each focusing on one collection. During these visits, the students met with the archivist(s) for an overview of one collection followed by independent examination to document the state of the collection through written notes and digital photographs. After thorough examination to assess the condition and current storage, the students interviewed Archives' staff to gain additional information about the current and future use of a given collection studied; limitations or restrictions in rehousing; digitization; and other relevant concerns relating to the collection. As possible, the students also met with volunteers working on the designated collections and reviewed existing documentation and reports (e.g. Preservation Needs Assessment prepared by the Center for the Conservation of Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia, PA). The initial goals of the environmental monitoring component of the project were to utilize the environmental data analysis software eClimate Notebook to analyze extant data collected by the Archives' staff and make recommendations for storage of materials based on these data readings. The extant data was collected using HOBO data loggers, which were placed in the various Archives storage areas. However, it quickly became apparent that none of the storage sites had been monitored for a sufficient period of time (12 months) to make such recommendations possible and that logger placement was not consistent, with individual loggers frequently used to monitor multiple sites. These realizations necessitated a shift in focus and instead the students developed recommendations for improving data collection practice. However, to offer the Archives' an idea of the interpretation possible with an adequate data set, the students used eClimate Notebook to analyze environmental data collected from the Archives' storage vault and demonstrated the application of the Image Permanence Institute's preservation metrics in modifying storage environment conditions. A final report outlining specific recommendations, examples of environmental data interpretation, sources for rehousing materials, and bibliographic references was produced. At the conclusion of the project, the students and Professor Joelle Wickens met with the archivists to review the final report section by section, make final recommendations, and answer any remaining questions on the part of the Archives of Longwood Gardens.
The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (DCCA) is a non-collecting art museum dedicated to the advancement, growth, and understanding of contemporary arts in Delaware. Currently, many of their exhibits consist of works created or installed by artists; the museum has expressed a desire to exhibit works from other contemporary collections, requiring the need of a General Facilities Report, a document required by most loaning institutions. As a result the project has been organized around the completion and review of a General Facilities Report for the DCCA. To further assist the DCCA in their efforts to obtain loans, research into the most significant sections of General Facilities Report and the expected standards was conducted through discussion with registrars from four different institutions. Based on this research, a review of the General Facilities Report completed for the DCCA was conducted to isolate areas where standards highlighted by registrars from these four institutions were not being met. Once these areas were isolated, recommendations were made as to how these standards could be met. Short and long-term goals are listed, which is intended to help the DCCA know what areas of the facilities to focus on and what can potentially help them in better securing loans from other institutions in the future. Through the process of completing a General Facilities Report and isolating the most significant sections within the report through discussion with other registrars, it is clear that although all sections within the report communicate important information, only a few of the sections are areas of focus for registrars when approving a loan. These tended to be security, climate control, fire suppression, handling and packing, and insurance. Some of the chief concerns were centered on the presence of a 24-hour guard, although an electronic alarm system is an appropriate substitute in some cases. It is important to check galleries/objects frequently and have a photographic record. There must be some form of climate control and monitoring the temperature and RH was imperative. Fire suppression needs to be in place that is checked regularly. It is imperative that an emergency plan be in place if the HVAC system fails, in the event of fire, or any type of natural disaster. For handling and packing, the main concern was that it not be done by interns or volunteers. The requesting institution must also have an insurance policy. Of the chief concerns mentioned, the most pertinent to the DCCA were environmental control, security, and having an emergency plan. The project consists of a completed General Facilities Report, a summary of the facilities at the DCCA, isolation of areas that are most important to focus on for receiving loans, and recommendations on how to meet those goals. The project also includes an annotated reading list and the initial project proposal.
Co-supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Dr. Stephanie Auffret
Asian lacquer (and the substrates to which it is applied) is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature. In addition, lacquerware is incredibly light-sensitive; polymeric breakdown, cracking, and dulling of the surface are permanent and irreversible effects of light exposure. Therefore, long-term preservation of this material is largely dependent on environmental control. The research presented here focuses on an assessment of the environment in Winterthur’s China Trade Room (CTR), a room on the third floor of the museum that is the permanent home for several of the museum’s Asian lacquered objects. Relative humidity, temperature, and light data were collected via the use of two different data loggers. To supplement the logger data, an IR thermal imaging camera was used to evaluate the space and consultations were held with various museum professionals and Asian lacquer experts. High light levels and rapid fluctuations in relative humidity were identified as risks to the collection that is housed in CTR. Short-term and mid-term goals for the mitigation of these risks are presented. Data and recommendations presented in this report are meant to provide support for an IMLS grant application that seeks to provide interventive conservation treatment for several of Winterthur’s Asian lacquered objects.
This study was designed to explore some of the current relationships between the disciplines of conservation and archaeology. The primary goal was to identify activities that fall under the category of preventive care. In addition to a review of literature, investigations included a survey on archaeological conservation for both conservators and archaeologists and personal interviews with experienced archaeological conservators. Through these references, it was discovered that ambiguity exists over the term preventive care as it applies to archaeological conservation. A review of the following conservation activities with an expanded notion of preventive care is presented: planning, supplies and materials, on-site lifting of finds, packing, transportation, finds processing, safety, surveys, storage, monitoring, documentation, security, emergency planning, conservation awareness, training, education, and outreach. This review of conservation activities attempts to elucidate the places where conservation and preventive care can contribute within the complexities of the archaeological process. Ultimately, the manifestations of conservation activities at a field excavation are related to the perceptions of the role of conservation. A brief look at perceptions of the role of archaeological conservation is presented. It appears that the integration of conservation into archaeological excavations is a changing and multi-dimensional endeavor. It is concluded that the discipline would be well served by periodical reflexive review of this dynamic relationship. General trends in professional organizations and heritage management indicate that the profile of conservation is rising and awareness is greater than in the past. In response to shifts in global heritage management, new directions for preventive conservation include the preservation of sites and artifactsin situ.This study moves towards "qualifying conservation at archaeological excavations" by examining ways that conservation can be incorporated into excavations and by assigning meaning to the term "preventive conservation" in field archaeology.
In the current economic crisis and with issues such as oil shortages becoming headline news as they did in the 1970's, art conservators and heritage building managers are looking for ways to save energy. In addition they are feeling the societal push to become more 'green'. This study investigates how the environmental parameters required by a collection can be met using sustainable practices. To save both energy and money it is possible to turn off Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. If the systems are turned off when the buildings are unoccupied it is more likely the conditions in the buildings will remain stable. By turning off HVAC systems for short periods of time, for example when the building is closed, the systems can be run in a more sustainable way. The project researched the practice of these short shut-downs, and included a three-day HVAC shut -down test at Winterthur. Winterthur is a historic house that has 175 period rooms with various materials including: furniture, decorative arts, works of art on paper, books, paintings on wood and canvas, leather, basketry, glass, metals, and textiles. The building has thick masonry walls, insulation, and double pane windows. The HVAC was installed in the 1960's. The parameters at Winterthur in the winter are: 68°F-72°F, Relative Humidity (RH) 40% +/- 5%; in the summer the parameters are: 72-75°F, RH 50% +/- 5%. These parameters are a conservative standard for the materials in this collection. A mild week in September was chosen for the shutdown, as the outside conditions would be similar to the collection parameters. During the 12-hour shutdown it was decided that if there were trends in the temperature and humidity moving quickly away from the parameters the systems would be turned back on. Monitoring was done in a thorough and systematic way, with readings taken by: building thermostats, thirteen dataloggers, and the building engineers took readings every two hours with a hand-held hygrothermograph. The shutdown was for 12-hours, the entire system was turned off from 6:00 PM until 6:00 AM, three nights were tested. The building temperature and RH remained within the parameters and the systems did not have to be turned on to regulate the environment. There were fluctuations, the overall trend was that temperatures were elevated a few degrees, and the RH was elevated a few percentages. The elevated temperature and RH is noticeable in the data charts, but when the data is examined in long time the changes during the shutdown are within the Winterthur environmental parameters. Interviews with conservators, archivists, and building managers gave insight into similar practices that will or have been taken at other institutions. These professionals described their experiences shutting down systems for days, or weeks, in a variety of climates spanning the United States. They spoke positively about their experiences, the environment in their collections remained stable or improved and they saved energy and funds, in some cases thousands of dollars were saved. Data was also collected about system setbacks, and the buffering ability of buildings with no environmental control. The success of these conservators and of the Winterthur test case may indicate to other museums the possibility of similar methods to save energy and funds while maintaining the environmental parameters required by their collection.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Richard Wolbers
Historic buildings, outdoor monuments and sculpture are especially prone to vandalism because of the public nature of their display. One of the more common forms of vandalism is graffiti. By definition graffiti represents any kind of graphic made on a surface, with aerosol spray paint being the most frequently encountered tagging medium. Tagging is a real problem from a preservation viewpoint, and Save Outdoor Sculpture, a Heritage Preservation initiative designed to engage the public in the protection of outdoor heritage, lists tagging as a condition criterion on both its Survey and Rapid Assessment forms (SOS website 2010). A real challenge faced by conservators and industries that specialize in the care of outdoor monuments is that the techniques of removing graffiti can be as damaging as the tagging itself. Methods include pressure-washing, abrasive cleaning, as well as overpainting, all of which can be harmful to deteriorated stone surfaces (Webster 1992). In addition, common practices in chemical washing, in which chlorinated hydrocarbons, glycols and various polar solvents have been used, pose health and safety concerns for the technician removing the graffiti (Graffiti Hurts website 2010). In response to the inherent difficulties of monitoring, protecting, and safely effacing the effects of vandalism from outdoor monuments, clear coating systems have been developed as a preventive measure against tagging. These systems are also referred to as graffiti barriers, or in cases where the coatings themselves are designed to be removed with the graffiti, as “sacrificial" graffiti barriers. Investigations into the benefits of sacrificial barrier coatings began in the 1960's and 70's as the occurrence of graffiti in major cities began to rise (Tarnowski 2007). The results of these studies are mixed. Natural and synthetic polymeric coatings in different solvents have been tested for their protective capabilities, but were found to result in changes in the stone's physical properties, including appearance and moisture permeability. These coatings were also shown to have varying degrees of reversibility (Ashurst 2002). There is a clear need for a protective coating that minimally changes the surface appearance and physical properties of stone, and that is easily reversible. Even if a coating meets these standards the question remains whether such a coating could be removed in a way that is less harmful to the person doing the cleaning, as well as the stone substrate. The main purpose of this study is to determine whether Avalure AC 315 meets the standards required in a sacrificial graffiti barrier, and to determine if aqueous cleaning methods can be used to remove it.
Mold spores are everywhere. It may sound dramatic, but there is no escaping them and there is no way to prevent them from coming into contact with collections. However, there are methods for managing the environment in order to prevent growth from starting and thriving on collections items. A few Native American long weapons in the Alaska State Museum (ASM) closed storage cabinets were recently discovered to have an unusual fluffy white substance on their surfaces. This substance had the appearance and characteristics of mold. These objects were comprised of wood, bone, ivory, leather and feathers; and the white substance was found on each type of material. Mold was not initially a suspect on any of these objects, as the collections storage at ASM is kept close to the desired ranges of 50% RH (± 5%) and 70° F (± 3° F). Therefore, the finding of mold on ASM objects was perplexing, considering that the guidelines given to museums indicate that mold should not grow at the humidity conditions maintained by the ASM. The white substance appeared at some point while the objects were in ASM storage, as they were noted to be in good condition (without any kind of white substance on them) when they came into the collection six years ago. Additionally confusing was the fact that the weapons are stored with other items that do not show any white, fluffy growth. This raised questions as to why these items were being affected. First and foremost was to definitively identify the white substances on the ASM objects as mold and not a similar looking efflorescence or bloom. If confirmed to be mold, then what factors contributed to its growth? Essentially, the focus of this research was to determine if mold growth is dependent primarily on RH levels, or if other factors such as mold species, temperature, air flow, and substrate may contribute to its development. To answer this, a more thorough investigation of mold was conducted. This study of mold aims to answer questions regarding the physiology of mold, differences between mold species, and to determine if all species can be prevented with current guidelines for environmental control. The research was carried out through a literature review and experimental procedures. Literary resources were sought out that were directly aimed at collections care, as well as those that thoroughly explained the physiology and characteristics of fungi. Experiments pertaining to the identification of mold were carried out at the Winterthur and University of Delaware research labs in Wilmington and Newark, Delaware, respectively. The anticipation is that the answers to these questions may encourage people to reconsider their environmental parameters and recognize unique situations that may not fit within normal guidelines.
Many collections worldwide contain objects composed of materials that are at risk from damage by pests; keratinacious objects in particular, such as woolen textiles, quillwork, tortoiseshell, and horn wares, are vulnerable to certain types of insects such as carpet beetles and clothes moths. There are a wide variety of factors which influence the locations of insect damage on a given object, including color: in a 2010 research project, Steven O'Banion documented the existence of preferential insect damage, finding a correlation between the color of parts of quillwork objects and their likelihood of their being damaged by pests. More literature research and scientific analysis of objects displaying preferential insect damage could provide more information about what makes certain parts of objects preferable to others. In turn, this information could influence the risk assessment of and guide the monitoring plans for vulnerable museum objects everywhere by suggesting where preferential insect damage is most likely to occur. In 2010, a wholecloth quilt in the Winterthur Museum's collection was discovered to be infested with case-making clothes moths and varied carpet beetles. Because the damage indicated a clear preference for a specific colored part of the object, it presented a good opportunity to investigate why the blue stripes were more attractive to the pests than the rest of the object. XRF and GC-MS analysis was performed on fiber samples taken from the quilt in order to identify the dyes and mordants present, and provide clues as to why the preferential damage occurred. The GC-MS analysis of the blue samples, the preferentially eaten areas, confirmed that the blue areas are dyed with indigo or woad, an unmordanted vat dye. The XRF analysis detected copper in the green yarn samples, the samples from the preferentially not-eaten parts of the quilt, which is significant. It indicates that copper was the mordant used for the yellow dye in the green thread and fabric. Copper is a well-known biocide, and its toxicity to many types of insects and marine life is becoming increasingly well documented. It was already known that the pests in question, case-making clothes moths and varied carpet beetles, prefer dark and undisturbed areas for feeding, and that they prefer greasier food to cleaner food, which contributed to the location of the damage on the underside of the quilt, as it was comparatively dark, undisturbed, and was more likely to contain residual soils from use. It now seems possible, however, that these pests particularly prefer indigo-dyed wool to other colors of wool because it is unmordanted, contains nitrogen, and because the alkaline vat dyeing process makes the wool fibers a little easier to eat. This knowledge can better inform collections care, and make integrated pest management more efficient. A schedule for monitoring based on dye-related risk could be developed to make the best use of staff time and resources.
In 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first pilot in history to fly faster than the speed of sound. This historic flight was enabled by a number of technological advancements in the previous decade that had allowed aircrafts to fly at much higher altitudes than ever before (Bilstein 2001). However, though flying at high altitudes allowed for higher speeds and faster travel, the physical and environmental forces on the human body at such heights are much greater than on the ground. Flight suits were concurrently developed that could distribute, circulate, and pressurize the human body to allow for the survivability of a pilot during high-altitude flight. Without these suits, high-altitude flight would never have been possible (Chatham and Clark 1959). One such flight suit was designed and manufactured for the United States military by David Clark Company, Inc. It was composed of a number of synthetic materials, a wide variety of which were developed and manufactured in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The incorporation of these materials enabled the execution of a design that non-synthetic materials of the previous century could have never been used to make, yet also created a system of considerable long-term conservation challenges. The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, DE has two of these flight suits in their collections, and both were manufactured in the early 1950s. Overall, each suit is composed of approximately twenty different materials, including fabrics, rubbers, hard plastics, metals, and foams. Almost all materials present appear to have been synthetically produced. Despite the fact that the suits appear to be in good condition, certain components are beginning to deteriorate in ways that compromise the objects both structurally and aesthetically. Many synthetic materials have proven to age in ways that are irreversible and deleterious to themselves and their surroundings. The inclusion of these materials in the overall composite system of both flight suits poses serious risks and tremendous challenges in their long-term preservation. Without proper care and maintenance, it can be expected that the condition of the suits will only worsen in time. Research has proven that the implementation of certain preventive measures can slow or arrest deterioration mechanisms of these materials overall, and these practices can prolong the life of these materials for years to come (Shashoua 2008, Quye and Williamson 1999). Understanding material composition is paramount in determining the most effective and appropriate conservation plans possible. This research study had two aims; first, to understand the composition of synthetic materials present in the suits and determine the deterioration mechanisms associated with them, and second, to use this information to propose a preventive conservation plan that can be used to ensure the long-term preservation of the objects. The implementation of the protocols outlined in this report will allow for the prolonged survivability of the flight suits; two objects that represent a significant era in military and aviation history.
Co-supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Dr. Stephanie Auffret
Asian lacquer (and the substrates to which it is applied) is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature. In addition, lacquerware is incredibly light-sensitive; polymeric breakdown, cracking, and dulling of the surface are permanent and irreversible effects of light exposure. Therefore, long-term preservation of this material is largely dependent on environmental control. The research presented here focuses on an assessment of the environment in Winterthur's China Trade Room (CTR), a room on the third floor of the museum that is the permanent home for several of the museum's Asian lacquered objects. Relative humidity, temperature, and light data were collected via the use of two different data loggers. To supplement the logger data, an IR thermal imaging camera was used to evaluate the space and consultations were held with various museum professionals and Asian lacquer experts. High light levels and rapid fluctuations in relative humidity were identified as risks to the collection that is housed in CTR. Short-term and mid-term goals for the mitigation of these risks are presented. Data and recommendations presented in this report are meant to provide support for an IMLS grant application that seeks to provide interventive conservation treatment for several of Winterthur's Asian lacquered objects.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Bruno Pouliot
This project is a link, in a very long chain, of conservation study and analysis performed on a group of textile fragments that were found at a marine archeological site. TheDeBraakCollection came from the underwater wreck site of theDeBraak, a British ship that sank off the coast of Delaware in 1789. The entire collection numbers over 20,000 pieces and approximately 30% of the ship's hull. The textile portion of the collection consists of about 250 flat fragments and about six larger costume fragments that retain some three dimensionality. Textile specimens were brought to Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation in 2000 for the purpose of fiber analysis and documentation. A succession of students attempted to identify fibers and weave structure in an effort to connect the information with possible use on ship. (Szuhay, 2000; Peranteau and Larochette, 2003; McClosky, 2004; Ritschel and Sahmel, 2005). With the material investigated and the reports complete, it was recommended that the collection would benefit from preventive conservation planning. (Sahmel, 2005) During the Spring 2009 semester, as part of the requirements towards an additional concentration in preventive conservation, storage methods and techniques currently in use in both archeological and textile collections were investigated. This afforded an opportunity to examine storage housings employed in textile collections in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, a review of literature that dealt specifically with the storage of archeological textile fragments was undertaken. This augmented discussions with conservators and also broadened the study to include European methods and practices. This project culminated in development of a prototype for theDeBraaktextile fragments. Two examples and detailed instructions for making the passive storage mounts were produced. The prototypes were designed to work within existing storage cabinetry, and available space, while incorporating additional buffering material and increase protection, at the object level, against dust infiltration and light exposure. The final project report included instructions on how to implement rehousing using volunteer support, a source list for the materials needed, an estimate of material amounts, and minimum budget requirements to complete the rehousing project. Subsequently, the 250 flat fragments were rehoused by volunteers using the rehousing plan. Their work insures access for study, improves finding aids in this part of the collection, and minimizes the risks of damage. The project highlighted the challenges of preventive care for archeological textiles; maintaining what remains in as close to an unchanged state as when it was found. Talking with conservators, whose charge it is to care for this material, underscored the fact that even 'passive' acts such as storing material can have devastating and lasting effects on these objects, at times even worse than treatment intervention.
Supervised by Dr. Joelle Wickens and Dr. Christina Cole
The focus of this semester-long project was to investigate the color-shift in a set of quilted furnishing fabrics from the collection of the Winterthur Museum. Dyed with madder and cylinder-printed on cotton, the furnishings under investigation include three sets of curtains, three valances, two bedspreads, and two bolsters (accession numbers 1957.1315.1a-2c and 1957.1316.1-6). Constructed in 1953 from historic 19th century fabric, the furnishings were displayed in the museum approximately six months of every year, for four decades. Presumably purple in color originally, the fabric has undergone varying degrees of discoloration. While some of the objects remain purple, others have shifted to brown. The discoloration can be separated into roughly into two categories – those that are brown but still retain a purple hue, and those that are brown and have an orange hue. It is hoped that by using this set of furnishing fabrics as a case study, information about the degradation pathway(s) will be obtained that can help prevent similar objects from suffering the same discoloration. Concurrent analysis is being carried out by Chris Cole, Mellon Foundation Fellow in Conservation Education, who is investigating the state of the dye at the molecular level. Analysis by liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy (LC-MS) has indicated that no degradation products associated with alizarin or purpurin, the main colorants in madder, are present in the discolored areas. Since the colorant molecules are still intact, they are not responsible for the color change. Thus, there is an unknown factor, or factors, that is causing the textiles to discolor – and it is this unknown factor that is the focus of this investigation. The purpose of this project was to examine the problem from a 'macro' scale. The body of the report has been divided into a number of sections. Information was gathered to orient the reader to the history of the furnishings and their use, to describe the objects and assess their condition, and to examine the various pathways of degradation for cotton and madder. This will create a logical flow of information from which the preliminary hypotheses are drawn. It is hoped that from these hypotheses a series of experimental investigations into the cause of the color shift can be formulated. As well, general suggestions for the storage and care of these and similar objects are presented at the end of the paper. As the problem is better understood, these general recommendations can become more targeted in the pursuit to halt and/or prevent such color shifts. Located in the appendices are written and photographic documentation of the current condition of the furnishings. This information creates a baseline from which the condition of the curtains can be monitored for further changes. Thus, these images, along with the other information compiled here, can be of use in future investigations of these and similar color shifts.
This research project investigates the effects the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), orHalyomorpha halys, has on museum objects. A ubiquitous pest at Winterthur and other east coast museums, it is widely regarded as annoying, yet innocuous. However, BMSBs collected from an infestation at Winterthur last year were retained in a plastic bag and, after 24 hours, produced a brown-colored fluid. This raised alarm in Winterthur's Preventive Team, prompting this study, the main goal of which was to determine how these secretions might affect materials in museum collections. This was achieved by an experimental procedure of exposing fragments of representative collections materials to live BMSBs in a controlled environment, as well as consultation with texts and experts. Analysis of the BMSB secretion was also performed with Gas Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy and pH extraction tests. The experiment demonstrated that the secretion forms brown stains when deposited on collection objects. Analyses showed that the secretion contained acidic materials, fatty acids and bacteria – all compounds that may have a negative long-term impact on materials if left unattended. Thus, BMSBs can potentially cause both immediate aesthetic damage and continuing harm to collections materials, which makes preventing their exposure to these pests critical to affected institutions. How to manage BMSB populations in buildings and how to detect and treat materials stained with BMSB secretions was also addressed, though both these topics require further research. Since the BMSB was introduced to the United States in 1996, a multitude of entomological articles have been published on it and its impact on agriculture. To the author's knowledge, the BMSB has not yet received attention in the art conservation literature. This project indicates that understanding its effects on collections is urgent, as it has a greater potential to damage collections than conventionally thought. Specifically, studying its life cycle, determining the sort of damage it creates, as well as how to detect this damage, will allow conservation professionals to determine whether a BMSB-targeted IPM strategy is needed for their collection.
It has been noted anecdotally that pests, such as Dermestid beetles, sometimes preferentially eat specific colors of quillwork and textiles made from proteinaceous fibers. These observations have led some to question if certain dyes either attract or deter pests. However, no formal survey has been previously conducted correlating pest damage to dye color. Color-specific pest damage is quite visually disruptive, as it often alters the overall readability of an object. Further, the removal of specific components can undermine an object's structural integrity. Knowing if specific dyes or classes of dyes attract or repel pests will benefit conservators and collections-care staff by allowing them to take preventative measures to protect their vulnerable items. This study investigated trends between dye color and pest damage on primarily pre-1856 Eastern Woodlands porcupine quillwork. Objects were examined in person and via images. In-person examinations were determined to be superior as they allowed for relative amounts of damage to be taken into account. Based on objects examined in person at the Penn Museum, white and blue quills were preferentially attacked by pests, while red and yellow quills exhibited less damage. Pests preferred to eat the quills that were blocked from light and/or soiled, indicating that factors other than the colorant must be considered. Based on objects examined via images, black quills were eaten less frequently than undyed white quills, while blue, red, and yellow quills were eaten more frequently. While the colorants used on some of these objects were known, no trends relating specific colorants to pest damage were observed. A collection of pipe stems from the Missouri River area suggested that trends noted for Eastern Woodlands quillwork may hold true for quillwork in other regions. Additional in-person examinations, combined with further scientific analysis of the colorants used on Eastern Woodlands quillwork, would help corroborate or contradict the trends observed in this study.
This independent study satisfies one of the requirements of the Additional Concentration in Preventive Conservation offered by the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.The primary research goal is to synthesize available information to provide a useful set of guidelines for storing a small collection. Secondary research goals are to address what storage materials are appropriate or inappropriate for use in housing museum collections and what methodology has been employed to establish a material's suitability or lack thereof for use in housing museum objects. To answer these questions, a literature review and several site visits to local historic institutions have been undertaken. The guidelines produced by this study will be targeted to a rehousing project in the Winterthur Museum Archives. The archives, under the care of Archivist and Records Manager Heather Clewell, currently include approximately 600 three-dimensional objects in need of more appropriate storage housings. Some objects are resting on shelves out in the open, while others are resting on file cabinets. The collection is diverse and includes fragile materials, such as samples of human hair and pressed flowers, as well as more robust artifacts of metal or ceramic. Some objects present unique storage challenges because of their size or unusual shape. Examples include several saddles with straps and a set of golf clubs. Space is a limiting factor in considering options for new housings. Cost is also an important factor. Creative and efficient solutions are necessary.