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News Student Blog: The Walters Art Museum

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​WUDPAC Class of 2019 Fellow Haddon Dine working in the Conservation Window on a 15th-century Italian wood and bone mirror frame. (Photo: Mari Hagemeyer)

I have now been a third-year graduate intern in objects conservation at The Walters Art Museum for about six months. The Walters houses an amazing collection of objects ranging from ancient to 21st century. The museum has no admission charge, so the art is available to everyone. The conservation labs at the Walters are among the oldest in the country, and I have been learning from this rich history of treatment and research.

I have been completing treatment proposals, treatments, and loan exams, as well as helping with gallery maintenance and participating in outreach programs. I am working with conservators, curators, and the conservation scientist. Among the objects I have been able to work on are a Russian enamel bowl, two ancient Egyptian bronzes, and a 15th-century Italian wood and bone mirror frame. The bronzes have different corrosion issues, and I am gaining experience assessing and treating these different issues. The mirror frame required problem solving to come up with a method of attaching a convex replacement mirror.

​Left: Before treatment photo of the fritware bowl. The brown color is staining. Some of these pieces are old fills. Right: During treatment photo of a Russian gilt silver enamel waste bowl by the workshop of Pavel Ovchinnikov.

I am very excited about a project I am just starting with the Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation, Mari Hagemeyer. We are beginning a large treatment of a stained 13th-century Iranian fritware bowl, which is in many pieces. The bowl has pierced and incised decoration, and it is covered in a blue-green translucent glaze that fills the piercings. It has cobalt blue underglaze decoration along the rim and in the center of the bowl. Fritware is composed of quartz, glass/frit, and fine white clay. The object has extensive brown staining on what should be a blue and white vessel. We are testing to reduce staining on the sherds; we are comparing different chelators and poulticing materials, and following the chelator step with a bleach step and then a rinse. We will also be removing adhesive residue and overpaint, and I will then be reassembling the sherds and filling losses. I am very pleased to be expanding my ceramic treatment experience on such an interesting object.

​Left and center: Normal light and ultraviolet light photos of the painted Roman head. Right: Performing x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy on the Roman head with Glenn Gates. (Photo: Glenn Gates)

I have had the opportunity to do research and scientific analysis while at the Walters. Working with curator Lisa Anderson-Zhu and conservation scientist Glenn Gates, I am in the process of conducting a technical study on a painted Roman marble head. The head was purchased by Henry Walters in 1927. If the polychromy on it is ancient, it is a very exciting amount of intact ancient paint. We have been examining the head, imaging it, and performing nondestructive analysis to find out more about the paint. Before I leave the Walters, I will hopefully be removing the head from its mount, because it is currently mounted at the wrong angle. The curator knows this from researching the head and determining what Greek sculpture it is a copy of.

I have also been enjoying working in the Conservation Window, where I work on treating an object on view. Visitors can watch and ask questions, and we talk about my projects, the field of conservation, and the museum in general. I have had many wonderful, interesting conversations with people who are regular visitors and those who are visiting for the first time.

I am looking forward to the rest of my year here at the Walters.

—Haddon Dine, WUDPAC Class of 2019

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2019 Fellow Haddon Dine shares her experience working with conservation staff and complex objects at The Walters Art Museum.

​In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2019 Fellow Haddon Dine shares her experience working with conservation staff and complex objects at The Walters Art Museum.

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489