The most complex project I encountered during the Raphael Room renovation involved the analysis and treatment of a 15th century Italian cassone panel. The panel had suffered significant alteration prior to entering the Gardner collection, and no longer retained its original gilded appearance. Extensive technical analysis in collaboration with scientists at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston allowed me to characterize the original composition of the cassone panel, and to better understand the alterations that had occurred. Using this analysis, coupled with theories of cleaning learned during my time as a WUDPAC fellow, I developed a cleaning system to allow the removal of the extensive overpaint. This treatment also provided the opportunity to learn about developments in laser cleaning technology, through the testing of overpaint reduction using a Er:YAG laser.
In March I began the second section of my third-year, which I
am completing at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. My
first project at the Peabody has been the stabilization and rehousing of a
group of Tibetan thangkas that were collected in the 1930s. As an objects
conservation major also pursuing a textile minor, the thangkas are an excellent
match for my interest in composite objects. They provide an unusual challenge
as they require a blend of objects, textile, and painting conservation
treatment approaches. Beyond treatment, it has been great to take advantage of
the many lectures, exhibitions, and programs that are constantly occurring
throughout the Harvard Community. Though I am still relatively new at Harvard,
I can already tell this will be a wonderful place to spend the final months of
my term as a WUDPAC fellow.
— Maggie Bearden, WUDPAC Class of 2017