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News Student Blog: Metal Conservation at the Rijksmuseum's Ateliergebouw

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​Jessica examines the miniature figures in central medallion of the mirror frame with a Hirox digital 3D microscope. Image: Joosje van Bennekom

​​​​Each morning I hop on my trusty bicycle and swerve through bike lanes, over canal bridges, and past tourists to arrive at the Ateliergebouw, a center of conservation and scientific research in Amsterdam. For the past five months, I’ve had the opportunity to intern at the Rijksmuseum, alongside my classmate Gerrit (featured in last month's blog post​). While Gerrit works across the building in the paintings studio, I spend my days in metal atelier. Here I work with conservators well versed in the treatment and study of Renaissance bronzes, Dutch silver, South Asian archaeological sculpture, 20th century jewelry, and many other topics in the dynamic field of metal conservation.   

Building on the skills learned in the second-year instrumental analysis course at WUDPAC, I have been carrying out a technical examination of an 18th-century mirror frame under the supervision of conservators Joosje van Bennekom and WUDPAC alum Sara Creange. This in-depth study using the research resources and analytical tools available at the Rijksmuseum has allowed me to parse through the multiple campaigns of restoration on this complex object. By pairing my data with art historical research, the mirror has been connected back to repair work carried out by Fabergé in St. Petersburg at the turn of the 20th century. Not only has this object survived extensive restoration, but it has also travelled back and forth across the European continent. It made its way from St. Petersburg to a private collector’s home in Amsterdam, was taken by the Germans in WWII and ultimately recovered by the Monuments Men, all before making its way to its current home at the Rijksmuseum.  

​Detail of standing mirror, BK-17100, Rijksmuseum. Image: Carola van Wijk

​When I first found out I would be completing half of my internship year in the metal conservation studio, I never could have imagined it would involve staring through a microscope to study the characteristic inclusions in rubies and the growth patterns of diamonds. Nor did I think I would be studying subtle differences in composition and colorants used in 18th century versus 19th century enamels. And this mirror even includes a painted metal backing plate, which has given me the chance to study the deterioration and treatment of paint on copper-alloy supports in keeping with my painted surfaces minor. These are just a few of the many skills I have gained during my multi-faceted internship. By far, the most rewarding part of the experience has been the opportunity to work with new international colleagues and benefit from the collaborative, research-focused atmosphere created at the Rijksmuseum.

—Jessica Chasen, WUDPAC Class of 2017

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2017 Fellow Jessica Chasen provides a glimpse into her work in the metal conservation studio of the Rijksmuseum's Ateliergebouw.

In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2017 Fellow Jessica Chasen provides a glimpse into her work in the metal conservation studio of the Rijksmuseum's Ateliergebouw.

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Student Blog: Metal Conservation at the Rijksmuseum's Ateliergebouw
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489