WUDPAC alumna and Project Conservator Elena Torok is part of a team working on accessible display for the Yale University Art Gallery’s new Wurtele Collections Study Center. The following is from an article by Jon Atherton entitled New collaborations bring silver linings in the preservation of Yale collections:
"The challenge of safeguarding Yale’s cultural collections has provided an unexpected opportunity for groundbreaking research at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH).
Throughout 2017, artifacts are being carefully situated in the endless rows of giant glass cases in the Yale University Art Gallery’s (YUAG) new Wurtele Collections Study Center – a 32,000 square foot space that is turning traditional ‘storage’ at Yale’s West Campus into unparalleled access to the Gallery’s collections for hands-on scholarship.
To the staff involved with the installation, housing artifacts in readily accessible display cases presents a novel set of challenges, and with them unforeseen opportunities to apply new techniques.
With a new ventilation system installed to provide only pure, dry air to the collection’s most sensitive metal objects, the Gallery partnered with the neighboring IPCH lab of Paul Whitmore to determine how to best monitor air quality over time. That’s when YUAG Project Conservator Elena Torok and her colleagues started to notice a worrying odor coming from the glass cabinets.
“We all go into galleries and marvel at pristine artifacts, and assume they just stay that way. But displays involve a huge web of expertise, and we have a great one at Yale,” says Whitmore, head of IPCH’s Aging Diagnostics Lab. The lab studies the causes of chemical and physical degradation in art objects to develop novel analytical techniques that can measure and monitor aging and changes as a function of time and environmental conditions.
Alongside IPCH colleague Rui Chen, Whitmore’s research has focused, among other areas, on the potentially harmful effects of corrosive gases released by degrading artifacts themselves. Using silver nanoparticles as sensors for reactive gases in art conservation applications, the scientists have previously found that these tiny silver films can be effective in the ‘Oddy test’ - used to test materials for their safety in proximity to cultural property - where they are much more sensitive indicators of corrosive gases."
To read the full article, click here.