Coursework

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Jonathan Stevens, furniture major (WUDPAC 2021), cleans a gilded frame as part of his coursework (Image credit Evan Krape, University of Delaware).

Twelve courses, including an eleven-month internship and two 8-week summer work projects, give the student in-depth instruction in basic examination and treatment techniques. Credits, listed parenthetically after the course title, do not indicate the actual hours required to complete the course. Additional information about the Library and Archives Conservation Education (LACE) curriculum at WUPDAC is available online.

First Year, Science

ARTC 615 Properties and Structure of Art Materials I (3 credit hours, Fall semester)

This course explores the fundamental physical and chemical properties of art and cultural materials, ensuring a basic familiarity with their mechanical and chemical behavior, the causes and mechanisms of their deterioration, and the range of materials and processes used for their conservation and restoration. The fall semester emphasizes organic materials such as, proteins and cellulose, solvent theory, and polymer chemistry.

ARTC 616 Conservation Research Methods (3 credit hours, Spring semester)

This course explores the fundamental physical and chemical properties of art and cultural materials, ensuring a basic familiarity with their physical, mechanical and chemical behavior, the causes and mechanisms of their deterioration, and the range of materials and processes used for their conservation and restoration. The spring semester emphasizes inorganic materials such as metals, glass, ceramics, stone, pigments, plasters, and cements.

ARTC 670 Chemical and Physical Techniques Used in the Examination of Art Materials I (3 credit hours, Fall semester)

This course is designed to coordinate its content with material taught in the concurrent specialty-specific blocks, focusing on the conservation science applications most directly relevant to a specific material or discipline. Applied science topics in the fall semester may include fiber identification, alkaline reserve treatments, iron gall ink corrosion, wet-cleaning techniques for textiles, dye chemistry and analysis, and the mechanical properties of historic and modern fibers.

ARTC 671 Chemical and Physical Techniques Used in the Examination of Art Materials II (3 credit hours, Spring semester)

This course is designed to coordinate its content with material taught in the concurrent specialty-specific blocks, focusing on the conservation science applications most directly relevant to a specific material or discipline. Applied science topics in the spring semester may include corrosion chemistry, mechanisms of glass and bronze diseases, and cleaning metal, glass, and ceramics.

First Year, Block

ARTC 656 Conservation Principles 1 (6 credit hours, Fall semester)

This course is divided into a sequence of specialty-specific blocks that cover each major area of conservation plus principles of preventive conservation. During the fall semester, these typically include paper, textiles, organic objects, and books and library material. Students work with faculty members in each specialty, learn the basic techniques of object examination, study the causes of deterioration, gain experience recommending treatment options for a variety of conservation problems, and establish a foundation for general collections care. Examination and documentation techniques covered during the semester include polarized light microscopy, ultraviolet light examination, and digital photo documentation.

ARTC 657 ​Conservation Principles 2 (6 credit hours, Spring semester)

This course is divided into a sequence of specialty-specific blocks that cover each major area of conservation. During the spring semester, these typically include photographic materials, wooden artifacts, inorganic objects, and paintings conservation. Students work with faculty members in each specialty, learn the basic techniques of object examination, study the causes of deterioration, gain experience recommending treatment options for a variety of conservation problems, and establish a foundation for general collections’ care. Examination and documentation techniques covered during the semester include cross-section microscopy, x-radiography, and digital photo documentation.

Second Year, Science

ARTC 672 Chemical and Physical Techniques Used in the Examination of Art Materials III (3 credit hours, Fall semester)

During the second year, the student will gain a basic familiarity, hands-on experience, and fundamental understanding of the instrumental methods of analysis most commonly used in art conservation. In the first semester, specific emphasis will be placed on the spectroscopic techniques that are routinely employed in museum laboratories, including, for example, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy. A technical analysis of an object of art will be undertaken in the second year with the student gaining individual mentoring and hands-on experience using instrumental methods of analysis to characterize the materials used to make and conserve objects of art. This will include experience interpreting data and working with complementary methods of analysis.

ARTC 673 Chemical and Physical Techniques Used in the Examination of Art Materials IV (3 credit hours, Spring semester)

During the second semester, the student will gain a basic familiarity and understanding of the chromatographic methods of analysis most closely related to conservation. Specific emphasis will be placed on the techniques that are most commonly found in museum laboratories, including, for example, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography. A technical analysis of an object of art will be undertaken in the second year with the student gaining hands-on experience using instrumental methods of analysis to characterize the materials used to make and conserve objects of art.

Second Year, Major Coursework

ARTC 658 Topics in Advanced Apprenticeship and Research in Conservation I (6 credit hours, Fall semester)

This course provides one-on-one instruction in one of the major areas of specialization, which consist of the following: furniture, library and archival materials, organic and inorganic objects, paintings, paper, photographs, preventive conservation, and textiles. One minor concentration, such as preventive conservation, may also be elected. Focusing on the chosen specialty, the course continues the development of basic hand skills, establishes a thorough ability to examine and document the condition of cultural property, hones problem-solving and ethical decision-making skills in treatments, and reinforces a solid understanding of the care and preservation issues within the specialty. Original works of art and artifacts are examined, studied, and treated in consultation with the responsible curator, institution, or owner as part of the course work.

ARTC 659 Topics in Advanced Apprenticeship and Research in Art Conservation II (6 credit hours, Spring semester)

This course provides one-on-one instruction in one of the offered major areas of specialization, which consist of the following: furniture, library and archival materials, organic and inorganic objects, paintings, paper, photographs, preventive conservation, and textiles. One minor concentration, such as preventive conservation or painted surfaces, may also be elected. Focusing on the chosen specialty, the course continues the development of basic hand skills, establishes a thorough ability to examine and document the condition of cultural property, hones problem-solving and ethical decision-making skills in treatments, and reinforces a solid understanding of the care and preservation issues within the specialty. Original works of art and artifacts are examined, studied, and treated in consultation with the responsible curator, institution, or owner as part of the course work.

Second Year, Seminar

ARTC 650 Seminar in Art Conservation (1 credit hour, Fall and Spring semesters)

As a means of developing their communication skills, students will present talks and write a report on their summer projects; in the spring visiting lecturers, chosen and hosted by the students, will speak on art conservation, curatorial decisions, and science, and faculty will conduct sessions on philosophy and ethics of conservation. Fall and Spring.

Second Year, Electives

Elective Course (3 credit hours)

During the second year of study, students must choose one three-credit elective course during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. Elective courses are meant to address a student’s individual interests or apply to a minor concentration. With approval of the major advisor, electives include course offerings in art conservation or in other relevant departments/programs at the University of Delaware, such as art history, anthropology, museum studies, chemistry, or history. Alternatively, students may opt to complete an independent study of their design (see ARTC 666).

ARTC 666 Independent Study (3 credit hours, Fall or Spring semester)

This course is designed by the student, under faculty supervision, to study cultural context, material science, conservation practice or history of technology. The student must submit a proposal to be approved by the supervising faculty member who will evaluate it for appropriate academic rigor and relevance to the student’s course of study.

Summer Work Projects

Each student completes two 8-week summer work projects during the first and second summer in the program. The work project locations are approved by the program to provide additional experiences in conservation principles and practice.

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