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News A visit to the Met's Department of Photograph Conservation

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Left: Photograph conservator Katie Sanderson shows students a large wetplate glass negative during a lecture illuminat- ing the technical history of numerous photographic processes. (Image: Nora W. Kennedy) Right: Students lean in to view the albumen silver prints in a miniature book, displayed by book conservator Georgia Southworth. Mathew B. Brady (American, born Ireland). [Miniature Wedding Album of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren], ca. 1863. Albumen silver prints, brass. Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library Fund, 1999. (1999.89) (Image: Nora W. Kennedy)

​Earlier this year, WUDPAC first-year students visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and their visit was featured in a recent issue of the museum's newsletter:

Conservation graduate students from the University of Delaware’s first-year class returned this year to learn about Met conservation practices for photographs, photograph albums, and time-based media with Nora Kennedy, Katie Sanderson, Georgia Southworth, and Jonathan Farbowitz. These students, like those at the New York University, UCLA and Buffalo State College graduate programs, are a highly select group. Each graduate school candidate must have a background in art history, chemistry, and studio art, and some programs require hundreds of hours of experience in a conservation lab prior to admission. American graduate programs are three to four years long, including extended internships in established conservation laboratories worldwide. During their first year, these students examine, analyze, document, treat, and care for a variety of cultural heritage materials—works of art on paper, paintings, textiles, glass, ceramics, metal, photographs, and so on, before focusing on their chosen conservation specialty.

A visit to the Department of Photograph Conservation allows these emerging conservators a rare glimpse into the workings of an active conservation lab. This perspective offers a holistic view of the teamwork and cross-disciplinary approach that the care of cultural heritage requires. At a more granular level, the conservation of an individual artwork often demands the distinct skills of numerous conservation specialists. Lessons learned in the practice of conservation elevate all aspects of our profession. This impressive group of emerging conservators, like their colleagues in other conservation graduate programs, always have great questions and insights to share. Their dedication to the field and enthusiasm for the artworks is always a welcome tonic. The Met’s engagement with students helps to strengthen and grow our profession, but also to keep our practices current and our inspiration levels high.

​Left: TBM conservator Jonathan Farbowitz shows students an example of artist-provided presentation boxes for time- based media artworks that come to the Met on DVDs, hard drives, and USB flash drives. (Image: Nora W. Kennedy) Right: Nora Kennedy discussing photographs from the Pictorialist era. (Image: Katie Sanderson)

Learn more about becoming a conservator at the American Institute for Conservation ECPN website. Additional infor- mation on all the North American conservation graduate programs can be found via the Association of North American Graduate Programs in the Conservation of Cultural Property (ANAGPIC) website.

To see the full March 2020 issue of the Bulletin from the Department of Photograph Conservation, Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photograph Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, click here.

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Earlier this year, WUDPAC first-year students visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and their visit was featured in a recent issue of the museum's newsletter.

​Earlier this year, WUDPAC first-year students visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and their visit was featured in a recent issue of the museum's newsletter.

3/31/2020
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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu