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UD's Department of Art Conservation continues to strengthen our partnerships with cultural heritage preservation organizations and our students contribute to heritage conservation efforts across the globe. 

This past year, the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) participated in the excavations at el-Kurru, an ancient Kushite royal city located along the Nile in north central Sudan. As the burial place of early royalty and the 25th dynasty rulers of Egypt, the site includes monumental funerary temples, pyramids, and tombs, providing vital insight into the political, religious, and social climate of the period. As a WUDPAC student focused on archaeological objects conservation, Amaris Sturm (Class of 2018) joined the University of Michigan team in the International el-Kurru Archaeological Project, an excavation initiative aimed at investigating the UNESCO world heritage site and assisting in conservation and site preservation efforts. The goal of the project, this year completing its fifth year, is to ultimately provide long-term preservation and accessibility to the site for local and international communities.

Originally excavated in the early 20th century by George Reisner followed by years of exposure, conservation has been a key component of the project since 2013, with the University of Michigan archaeological conservators playing a major role in structural stabilization and large-scale site preservation planning. As one of two conservators on the University of Michigan team this year, Amaris assisted in the conservation efforts of the both the site's structures and associated small finds. From documentation and injection grouting of a funerary temple to condition assessing the Kurru-1 pyramid, Amaris gained experience in the conservation of monumental structures, insight into the challenges of on-site archaeological conservation, and understanding of long-term site preservation. Alongside documentation and treatment, Amaris joined in the planning of site preservation and community outreach initiatives, a key aspect of the long-term preservation of this important world heritage site.

Jacquelyn Peterson (WUDPAC Class of 2018) participated in the first part of a two-phase project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The museum is a former prison and torture center that was operated by the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979, during which time an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 people were imprisoned and tortured within its walls. The mission of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is to serve as a place of reflection and education by preserving evidence of the past and the memory of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, and the objects in its care include a collection of garments belonging to victims in addition to other material evidence of the genocide.

The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and was carried out under the guidance of Washington D.C. based textile conservator Julia Brennan. It has three major goals: to provide conservation and collections care training for the staff of the museum, to establish a protocol for the inventory and surface cleaning of the textile collection, and to test and implement long-term storage solutions for the textile collection to protect it from the high humidity of the Cambodian climate. During the first phase of the project, Jacquelyn co-taught a workshop that focused on the basics of textile and preventive conservation to a group of Cambodians that included staff from Tuol Sleng, the National Museum of Cambodia, and recent archeology graduates from the Royal University of Fine Arts. The workshop also implemented a system for cataloguing the textile collection and piloted an innovative approach for the long-term storage of the collection that utilizes sealed plastic bins and moisture-absorbing ceramic beads to manage the relative humidity within each box, thus limiting the damaging effects of the high relative humidity. The staff at the museum will continue to inventory the textile collection between the two phases of the project, and the second phase will take place in the fall.

Publications that discuss the Phnom Penh project include: "Clothing Conservation Project Begins at Cambodia's Genocide Museum" published by Voice of America (https://www.voacambodia.com/s?k=clothing; this online publication includes video footage that details the drying bead microclimate system for the long-term storage of the textile collection), "The Garments of Genocide" (http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2018/february/cambodia-conservation-genocide/?utm_source=UDaily+Subscribers&utm_campaign=edaf6883f8-UDaily_News_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b5034716d-edaf6883f8-177567773; a question-and-answer format article published in UDaily), and "Cambodian Genocide Documented in Victims' Preserved Clothes" published by the Associated Press (https://apnews.com/2703d938a4eb4f09ba3acbd1e88b104a).

For more information on the Department of Art Conservation's international projects, visit our Global Engagement page here.

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UD's Department of Art Conservation students contribute to on-site heritage conservation efforts across the globe.

UD's Department of Art Conservation students contribute to on-site heritage conservation efforts across the globe.

5/28/2018
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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