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WUDPAC Class of 2022 final presentations

WUDPAC Class of 2022 final presentations

We look forward to welcoming our third-year WUDPAC Fellows back to Winterthur on August 23rd for a day of lectures about their internship experiences.
 
WUDPAC Class of 2023 third-year placements

WUDPAC Class of 2023 third-year placements

Best wishes to our students as they head out to their training placements around the globe; we look forward to hearing all about it!
 
WUDPAC Class of 2024 summer work placements

WUDPAC Class of 2024 summer work placements

We would like to express our gratitude to the wonderful host sites and supervisors who will be working with our students this summer.
 
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Student Blog: National Museum of Asian Art

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Image of a corroded bronze statue, photographed with a digital color card and scale.

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​I am completing my third-year internship at the newly rebranded National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA) in Washington DC. A member of the Smithsonian Institution, the building hosts two collections under one roof. Established in 1923 and preparing for its centennial year, the Freer collection displays exemplary items from across Asia and the near East collected by the connoisseur Charles Lang Freer over the course of his lifetime. The Sackler collection was established in 1987 with an inaugural donation from collector Arthur M. Sackler of 1000 objects including outstanding Chinese jades and bronzes. The museum maintains an active exhibition schedule with international reach.

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Detail of an area of repair on the bronze object.

​As an objects conservator with a preventive conservation minor, my goal for this internship was to be involved in as many different conservation related activities as possible. I've helped with condition assessments of stone, ceramic, glass, metal, and composite objects requested for exhibitions, assisted with a survey of the museum's pichwai collection (large, painted textiles celebrating the life of the Hindu god Krishna), and spent time working with a unique example of Cambodian bronze dating to the 12th century. One of my long-term projects is the treatment of a 17th century Chinese lacquer screen that is scheduled for exhibition in 2023. Comprised of twelve panels depicting a “spring morning at the Han palace," the screen is decorated using the “kuan cai," meaning incised colors, technique. The black lacquer substrate is carved to produce an image and the incised areas are decorated with pigment or gold to complete the design. 

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Detail of the repaired area after inpainting.

​​Before photography, some previous areas of repair on this Cambodian bronze figure of a seated Buddha (F1937.29) needed to be toned to match the surrounding surface. Acrylic paint was carefully applied on top of the repair materials to visually integrate the surface into the surrounding patina. ​​

​The lacquer itself is in remarkably good condition considering the age of the screen. Treatment activities focused on paint stabilization, consolidating and filling significant areas of lacquer loss, and aesthetic compensation of previous fills that distract from the overall appearance of the screen. Paint consolidation is time consuming work, using small brushes to apply adhesive to the edges of paint losses to ensure that the remaining paint is adhered to the substrate. Each step required close examination and long hours spent with the object, meaning I got to know the panel and its construction, design, and specific condition issues very well. I was able to complete treatment work for one panel and will assist with the final aesthetic unification of the whole screen.

​My time at the National Museum of Asian Art has taught me a great deal about material cultures and art histories that were new to me, about the many roles a conservator plays across the museum, and about the importance of collaborative thinking in all aspects of my work. Perhaps the most affirming lesson is a newfound confidence in my professional intuition. As an emerging professional, it is rewarding to see my original ideas and contributions welcomed in discussions about object treatments and collection care planning. This internship is the culmination of the hard work and study that filled my time at WUDPAC, and I look forward to carrying my skills both new and practiced into the future.

— Allison Kelley​, WUDPAC Class of 2022​

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Student and staff members lay a large textile on a sheet of plastic on the floor.

​Pichwai are often very large textiles as they are made to hang behind an altar in a temple. For the survey we had to prepare an examination space on the floor of the storage facility to accommodate the objects. Here, painted textile specialist Nancy Pollak (WUDPAC alumna) is examining the condition of the paint along with Debra Diamond, the Elizabeth Moynihan curator for South and Southeast Asian Art. Image credit to Ellen Chase.​

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A student makes sure a large stone carving is secure on its storage cart within the lab.

​Allison is positioning a stone relief carving of the figure Wei Mo Chi, or Vimalakīrti (F2001.7) from the Longmen Grottoes. This work is going back on display in the fall and is in the lab for cleaning and aesthetic integration of previous fills and repairs. Image credit to Ellen Chase.​

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A student uses a small cotton swab and magnification to surface clean a lacquer object.

​Allison is removing old overpaint from the edge of a lacquer screen panel (F1906.42.1) using acetone applied with hand-rolled cotton swabs. The Optivisor she wears allows for a magnified view of her work and the air extraction trunk pulls the acetone fumes away and out of the work environment, ensuring safe conditions for everyone in the lab. ​

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A lacquer object is secured on a table with a clamp.

​A large clamp is used to apply even pressure to an area of lifted lacquer that has been consolidated with a conservation grade adhesive. ​

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WUDPAC Class of 2022 Fellow Allison Kelley—an objects conservation major and preventive conservation minor—talks about her third-year internship at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.
4/28/2022
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