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News Student Blog: Art Institute of Chicago

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​WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Lindsey Zachman locally treating the stains on the Gillray etching using the suction platen. (Photo: Lindsey Zachman)

I have had the great fortune of spending my third year as a graduate student in the WUDPAC program at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago was originally founded in 1879 as both a school and museum. The museum's permanent location was established in 1893 in a building constructed on what is now recognized as the original homelands of the Council of Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. A land acknowledgement ceremony took place shortly after I began my internship, which celebrated these native tribes and a new partnership between the Art Institute and the American Indian Center. 

The institute's mission statement speaks to its encyclopedic nature and its history as both a school and museum: "The Art Institute of Chicago collects, preserves, and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world's diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with our profession's highest ethical standards and practices." It is a large institution with a collection of nearly 300,000 objects in the permanent collection as well as a research library. The collection is very wide ranging with objects from all over the world, dating from antiquities to contemporary.

​Before (left) and after (right) treatment views of the James Gillray hand-colored etching, recto. (Images: Mary Broadway and Lindsey Zachman)

The paper lab has been a fast paced and excellent learning experience. I have had the privilege of working with four different conservators while here. I was supervised by Antoinette Owen, previous Head of Paper Conservation, up until her January retirement. I am now supervised by Kristi Dahm, and have had the opportunity to work with Mary Broadway and Maria Cristina Rivera Ramos as well.  Working with and learning from these exceptional conservators has been invaluable.

So far during my internship I have treated twenty-one paper objects, ranging from minor treatments like surface cleaning and hinge removal to major treatments like aqueous bathing and stain reduction. Many of these projects have been in preparation for upcoming exhibitions. One such treatment was for a hand-colored etching entitled "Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses" by James Gillray, published in 1802. 

​​Before (left) and after (right) treatment views of the James Gillray hand-colored etching, verso. (Images: Mary Broadway and Lindsey Zachman)

​The print had once been adhered to a secondary support using thick globs of glue all around its perimeter.  When the print and secondary supports were separated at some point previously, this skinned the secondary support, leaving all the glue plus some blue paper on the back of the print.  The glue caused staining which was visible on the front in the margins. I mechanically removed as much of the glue as possible using rigid gels to soften it before carefully scraping it away. Following this, I worked locally on the suction platen to reduce the stains using a fine brush and various solutions.  Many hours were dedicated to this treatment (30.5 total) and it was rewarding to see the stains gradually reduce. 

Visitors to the museum will soon be able to see this print on display as part of the upcoming exhibition "Fabricating Fashion: Textiles for Dress, 1700–1825" which opens at the end of March. This treatment among others, plus all the additional experiences I've had during this internship so far have truly been fulfilling. I'm looking forward to all the projects to come!

— Lindsey Zachman, WUDPAC Class of 2020

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Lindsey Zachman talks about working with conservators at the Art Institute of Chicago, including her treatment of a hand-colored etching from 1802.

In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Lindsey Zachman talks about working with conservators at the Art Institute of Chicago, including her treatment of a hand-colored etching from 1802.

2/27/2020
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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