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Here, There, and Everywhere

Here, There, and Everywhere

In March 2024, UD CAS Interim Dean and ARTC Chair Debra Hess Norris spoke about photograph preservation, The Beatles, and cultural memory as part of the Chrysler Museum exhibition of photographs by Sir Paul McCartney.
 
Art conservation and family histories

Art conservation and family histories

​​Two young boys clamber up a May Pole in a painting under treatment by WUDPA​C Fellow and paintings major Emily Landry, whose goal is to stabilize and protect the flaking paint and water-damaged canvas.​
 
Poison Book Project Outreach: Connecting with Booksellers and Librarians

Poison Book Project Outreach: Connecting with Booksellers and Librarians

​The Poison Book Project continues to draw attention from bibliophiles​. At this year’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair, booksellers offered over half a dozen 19th-century bookbindings for sale as “poison books.”
 
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Student Blog: Philadelphia Museum of Art

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A student uses a flashlight to look at details in wooden carving on a door.

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​Caroline examining the paint on a carved door from an English period room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Photograph by Peggy Olley)​

​For my third year internships, I chose to split my time between two institutions. This summer I commuted from Wilmington up the road to Philadelphia to start my first placement at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in the Furniture and Woodwork Conservation Lab under the supervision of Behrooz Salimnejad and Peggy Olley.

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A student kneels to examine a gilded object on a platform. Rows of chairs fill shelves in the background.

​Caroline examining a gilded lectern (1918-2) in storage. (Photograph by Caroline Shaver)​

​One of my goals for this year was to become more familiar with different decorative surfaces of wooden artifacts and architecture from a variety of cultures. This includes how to research and treat the objects based on the methods and materials used to create them, their condition, and the input of stakeholders across an institution. The internationally renowned encyclopedic collection of the PMA is ripe with opportunities to fulfill this goal. In addition to the wide range of furniture in the collection, the Furniture & Woodwork Conservators are responsible for caring for many of the period rooms and two of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park Houses that the PMA oversees. This year I am charged with the research and care of a range of objects that fall into categories of decorative arts, architectural woodwork, and fine arts. I'm most excited to treat an 18th-century gilded lectern from Italy, an 18th-19th century lacquered couch bed (Luohanchuang) from China, and research an 18th-century painted period room from England. 

Another goal of mine was to be exposed to materials and treatment techniques I haven't explored yet. One of my first projects this summer was treating a 17th-century Spanish armchair with leather upholstery, some of which had significant areas of loss to the leather. For this treatment I was able to use a technique I learned in a seminar at WUDPAC of casting a composite acrylic fill to create a custom material that can look convincingly like leather. The treatment was successful, and the chair is now back on view in the galleries. The PMA has also offered numerous opportunities to learn about holistic collections care in a large institutional setting by assisting with integrated pest management in the galleries, aiding with maintenance of the two Park Houses, and completing routine cleaning for objects on view and in storage. 

At the start of the new year,​ I'll be relocating to Cleveland to work in the Objects Conservation Lab at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). I am excited to work with Beth Edelstein and Colleen Snyder to continue my work with decorated surfaces of decorative art, fine art, and architectural woodwork in the second half of my internship year.

—Caroline Shaver, WUDPAC Class of 2024​

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An ornately gilded and carved wooden object sits on a platform.

​Before treatment image. Lectern, c. 1740, Italian, gilded softwood, gray velvet (1918-2). (Photograph by Jason Wierzbicki, Philadelphia Museum of Art Division of Conservation)​

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A student uses a soft brush and miniature vacuum to remove dust from the surface of an ornate chair.

​Caroline vacuuming an Italian 16th c. armchair (P1977-167-1136a) before the object returns to the galleries. (Photograph by Caroline Shaver)​

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A student uses a screwdriver to fix a door hinge on an historic building.

​Caroline repairing a door to an outbuilding at the Mount Pleasant Park House. (Photography by Peggy Olley)​

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Museum documentation image of a wooden chair with aged leather upholstery.

​After treatment image. Armchair, 17th c., Spanish, walnut, tooled leather, brass-headed nails (1943-84-2). (Photograph by Jason Wierzbicki, Philadelphia Museum of Art Division of Conservation)​

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Detail of the back of the chair after treatment with leather repair and cleaning.

​After treatment detail image of armchair with cast composite fills. (Photograph by Jason Wierzbicki, Philadelphia Museum of Art Division of Conservation)​

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Detail of the back of the chair before treatment. Loses in the aged leather are visible.

​Before treatment detail image of armchair. (Photograph by Jason Wierzbicki, Philadelphia Museum of Art Division of Conservation)​

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WUDPAC Class of 2024 Fellow Caroline Shaver spent the summer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, working on everything from architectural woodwork to fine arts. One of her first projects was treating a 17th-century Spanish armchair with leather upholstery.
 
 
8/30/2023
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