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News WUDPAC alumna is Doctor Honoris Causa

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Dr. Kennedy speaking during the ceremony. (Photo by Zuzana Pustaiová, courtesy AFAD.)

​In June 2019, Nora W. Kennedy (WUDPAC '86)—Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge of the Photograph Conservation Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City—traveled to Bratislava, Slovakia, to be awarded a doctor honoris causa from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (AFAD). The AFAD Arts Council made the award in recognition of Kennedy's ongoing contributions to develop and establish photograph conservation within their Department of Restoration. Kennedy shared the stage with Rolls Royce Head of Design, Jozef Kabaň. Kennedy and Kabaň are the only individuals to be awarded honorary doctorate degrees in the last five years by the Arts Council, and University delegates from Slovakia and other countries attended in full regalia for the formal ceremony.

​Left: Provosts from Universities throughout the region attended the ceremony in full regalia. Right: Dr. Kabaň and Dr. Kennedy with AFAD Provost Dr. Bohunka Koklesová, an historian of photography (center). (Photos by Zuzana Pustaiová, courtesy AFAD.)

In addition to heading up one of the most active centers for photograph conservation internationally, Kennedy partners with ARTC Chair Debra Hess Norris on ongoing projects and initiatives. Every year, the first-year WUDPAC students visit the Photograph Conservation Department at The Met as part of their “block” on photograph conservation. Kennedy and Norris have worked for many years on the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI), and have taught workshops on preventive conservation and conservation treatment for photographs—often with conservation scientist Bertrand Lavédrine—in locations including Porto Novo, Benin, West Africa; New Delhi, India; and Canberra, Australia. In September Norris, Kennedy, and other University of Delaware alumni will teach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 30th Anniversary of the APOYO organization.

Kennedy first travelled to Eastern Europe in 2000 with New York University, where she is on the adjunct faculty, on an exploratory trip to investigate the establishment of photograph conservation as an area of specialization in the region. Colleagues from Bratislava, Slovakia, took part in this meeting, which was co-organized by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). In 2006 Kennedy was invited by NEDCC to teach with Monique Fischer (WUDPAC ’94) at what became a series of workshops hosted by the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, providing much-needed conservation specialization training to participants from throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. These workshops were funded in part by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.  Kennedy returned to Bratislava in 2007, and that same year the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) launched a separate initiative in collaboration with the AFAD. Kennedy was involved in the planning for the initiative and spoke at an early symposium. The related course series launched in 2008. Information on this initiative is available on the GCI website.

First-year WUDPAC students visit Photograph Conservation at The Met every year as part of the photo conservation “block.” At left, Met book conservator Georgia Southworth shares Met treasures with the students. At right, students examine masterpieces from the collection up close and without protective glazing, one of the perks of The Met visit. (Photos by Nora Kennedy.)

Norris and Kennedy then helped arrange a study trip to the U.S. for two young photograph conservators from AFAD, Barbara Burianova and Janka Krizanova. From 2010 onward, NEDCC has hosted colleagues from Eastern Europe at their facility in Andover, Massachusetts, to gain further experience in photograph conservation and preventive care. Kennedy has traveled to NEDCC to teach the intern or interns, and in recent years hosted the groups in Photograph Conservation at The Met in New York City. On these visits, Eastern European colleagues learn about the Museum’s ongoing activities, current practices, and scholarly initiatives, see collections, and meet the conservation staff. More information about this important NEDCC initiative is available online. From 2013-2016, AFAD faculty member Janka Krizanova joined The Metropolitan Museum of Art as a Research Scholar in Photograph Conservation, where she worked alongside museum photograph conservators and studied the characterization of black-and-white photographs as part of her research. On her return to Slovakia, Krizanova was promoted to head of the conservation department at AFAD.

Left: Kennedy teaching identification of photographic processes for colleagues from throughout Eastern Europe as part of a 2007 NEDCC Workshop hosted by AFAD. (Image by Nikifor Haralampiev.) Right: Workshop group photo with then AFAD photograph conservator Barbara Burianova (second from left); then AFAD head of paper conservation Boris Kvaznica (third from left); Nora Kennedy (center); and Monique Fischer of NEDCC (second from right) in 2007. (Image courtesy Stefan Belishki and AFAD.)

The Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava was established on June 9, 1949 by the Slovak National Council. The “restoration studio” was established at the inception of the Academy, but the focus was on paintings and sculpture with photograph conservation added as recently as 2006 as an area of specialization. From the Luca Ackerman translation of the AFAD announcement for the doctoral ceremony: “Thanks to [Kennedy’s] great effort … a new specialization in the conservation of photography at the Department of Conservation was established in 2006. Long-term training of experts in this field is needed to make the new specialization sustainable. [Kennedy] has helped to teach photograph conservators in many ways. She has been involved in … teaching … in major conservation centers and schools such as the North East Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and University of Delaware. She helped to create a bachelors and masters curriculum to teach photography conservation [at AFAD]."

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kennedy on her achievement, and on her continued outreach, and collaborative education and training efforts around the world.

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The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Slovakia, has awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to Nora Kennedy, WUDPAC alumna and Metropolitan Museum of Art Conservator.

​The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Slovakia, has awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to Nora Kennedy, WUDPAC alumna and Metropolitan Museum of Art Conservator.

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