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Jane E. Klinger

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​Jane Klinger inspecting moving image film by Claude Lanzmann; outtakes from his film Shoah. (Photograph courtesy of USHMM)

began September 2012

Jane Klinger is the Chief Conservator for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, responsible for the conservation and preservation management of the Museum collections and the holdings of the USHMM Archives and Library. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Conservation in Florence, Italy at the Villa Schifanoia, Rosary College Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1979. After graduating, she established the first paper conservation laboratory for the prints department of the Galleria Moderna at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Prior to returning to the United States, she worked on various projects in Belgium, Italy, and Israel. Her first American job was Assistant Paper Conservator at Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware. In 1985, Ms. Klinger became the Paper Conservator at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In 1987 she began working for the National Archives and Records Administration and was sent to the Pacific Sierra Region Branch in San Bruno, California to establish the first National Archives preservation and conservation laboratory outside the District of Columbia. She has taught paper conservation in Brazil and Bolivia, has served as part of the teaching staff of the Society of American Archivists Preservation Management Training Program, and has presented papers to various professional groups in the United States and abroad. Ms Klinger is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation and has served on its board. She is currently Vice President of the Washington Conservation Guild.

Current advisors: Tricia Wachtendorf and Anne Bowler (Sociology), James Jones (Psychology), Lu Ann de Cunzo and Carla Guerron-Montero (Anthropology).

TOPIC: The Identification, Interpretation, Public Perception, and Preservation of the Material Culture of Trauma

In order to fully understand the place of objects of trauma within material culture, it is necessary to first explore the precepts upon which their identification is based. Beginning with a general definition of objects of trauma as the material survivors of events such as war, oppression, terrorist attacks, assassinations and natural disasters, a thorough study will be made of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the nascent National Museum of African American History. Each of these museums interprets history through a unique lens which influences the identification both of traumatic events within their cultural milieu and of the material culture that serves as evidence and memory of the event. Furthermore, the range of exhibition narratives and how objects of trauma are used within those narratives illustrate the differing sensibilities regarding collective memory, commemoration, and interpretation, as well as, desired response among each of their constituencies. This process of identification, interpretation, incorporation, and use pierces the walls of the conservation laboratory and directly influences the preservation of these objects. It will thus be shown that material culture of trauma in a museum setting is actually a dynamic system of identification, interpretation, use and preservation responding to norms of collective memory, new historical interpretations, and even political and social pressures.​

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Jane Klinger
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Jane E. Klinger
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489