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Collections Conservation, Year Two

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​IICAH participants stabilizing an artifact from the Kurdish Textile Museum

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Advanced Courses: Collections Conservation

The training overseen by the University of Delaware at the Iraqi Institute is divided into two levels: Introductory (Preventive Conservation) and Advanced (Conservation Treatment and Planning). The Advanced course, designed for individuals who have passed the Introductory course with identified skills and distinction, focuses more directly on developing the knowledge of people who will work as conservators. These participants are actively treating and improving the condition of individual items as well as expanding skills in preservation of collections. Participants must be invited to attend the second-year Advanced course.

The courses are designed as a series of Modules arranged into one or two week blocks that can be adapted as needed to the exigencies of working in Iraq and with visiting lecturers coming from abroad and so can easily be rescheduled. The scheduled curriculum will be augmented by lectures and practical sessions that may be given depending on availability and willingness of heritage professionals visiting Erbil. The final week of the 2012 Course for both the Introductory and Advanced students will be the planning, organization and hosting of an Open House, at which participants will make a public presentation of their work completed throughout the year. This program will bring together the Iraqi Institute participants, staff, Board and Advisory board members, alumni, and program supporters.

ADVANCED COURSE, MODULE 1: Course Schedule and Descriptions

In this Module, returning students review information gained during the first year.  They produce a first condition and treatment proposal for an object made from a material studied in the first year and have this proposal discussed and critiqued until it is of international standard.  They practice discussing treatments with stakeholders and researching materials, technology and treatments.  As a group they develop an environmental monitoring plan for the Institute building and begin the monitoring process that will take place throughout the year.  They practice conservation and documentation and begin treatments with materials depending on the expertise of the lecturers visiting during this module.  They practice photographic skills and learn how to take quality photographs of difficult materials (large, shiny).  They learn how to take better candid shots of people at work to improve images for presentation and advocacy.  

Introduction to Laboratory Conservation introduces participants to the course goals and talks about the methodology and approach to conservation treatments.  The treatment process of researching, understanding and documenting the condition through examination and research, preparing a treatment proposal that must be approved, carrying out the treatment with careful documentation throughout, and finally collecting all the information in a treatment report that goes into a portfolio created by each student is explained.

Developing an Environmental Monitoring Program will be a one-week practical to design a environmental monitoring program for the Iraqi Institute facility that will be followed throughout the year.  This project reinforces ideas and techniques learned in the introductory course and develops planning and advocacy skills of the second-year students.

Advanced Technical and Scientific Skills for Conservation reinforces and expands the chemistry and physics knowledge of the students to improve their understanding of deterioration processes, and the effects of treatments on artifacts, in particular cleaning and adhesion.

Documentation for Ivory Conservation will allow participants to produce their first complete condition assessment and treatment proposal (including graphic documentation) for their portfolio. 

Ivory Conservation is a three-week period of time when participants will work on documentation and treatment of one material to develop their documentation and hand-skills for treatment. This portion of the course will overlap with a separate project where American and Iraqi conservators will be carrying carry out complex treatments for an important collection of archaeological ivory.

Home Practicum is a final two-week project carried out in the participant’s home institution giving them an opportunity to put new skills and knowledge directly into practice and to begin to improve preservation of collections in the home institution. 

ADVANCED COURSE, MODULE 2: Course Schedule and Descriptions

Students continue to practice the conservation process and learn new treatment skills based on the expertise of the visiting lecturers.  Group and individual treatments are carried out during the module under the supervision of visiting lecturers. They research a small topic on the internet and present their findings in English.  They upgrade and improve their portfolios and have them critiqued so that they can continue to improve them for final presentation.  Students collect data from their environmental monitoring project and learn the importance of evaluation of data for making improvements.  They adapt the program and reset the monitoring equipment.

Review and Presentation of Practicum Projects gives a chance to review ideas presented into Module 1 and allows the Academic Director to identify areas that should be readdressed as the course continues.  In addition to presenting their projects participants are asked to evaluate successes and failures of the projects – in particular, how their work may help make change in the museum.

Advanced Photography for Conservation will review and expand on the photographic documentation processes used in conservation treatment.  Using documentation previously created in the ivory conservation treatments, students will be critiqued and guided to make better images in a consistent manner.  Photographic techniques for the field and laboratory will be shared.  The importance of digital archiving will be stressed.

Conservation Treatments for Textiles will allow participants to carry out a series of projects using the collections of the Kurdish Textile Museum.  This gives participants an opportunity to treat artifacts and develop display supports for fragile organic materials.

Conservation Treatments for Metals gives participants the opportunity to treat archaeological metals from recent excavations or housed in Iraqi museums.  The focus is on stabilizing active corrosion and revealing detail through careful cleaning techniques.

Home Practicum is a final two-week project carried out in the participant’s home institution giving them an opportunity to put new skills and knowledge directly into practice and to begin to improve preservation of collections in the home institution.  This project will include planning for longer-term improvements that can be made beyond the end of the course.

ADVANCED COURSE, MODULE 3: Course Schedule and Descriptions

In this final module students practice the conservation process with additional materials and gain confidence and skills with tools, equipment and techniques.  More group and individual treatments are carried out and documented under the direction of visiting lecturers.  Students learn new techniques for simple mounts and improve skills for ensuring preservation of artifacts on exhibit.  They learn techniques for packing including soft packing and crating to ensure preservation of artifacts during transport.  They finalize the environmental monitoring project and make recommendations to the Board of Directors on needed changes and improvements to the building.  Students finalize their portfolio for presentation in an end-of-the year public open house.

Review and Presentation of Practicum Projects gives a chance to review ideas presented in Modules 1 and 2 and allows the Academic Director to identify areas that should be readdressed as the course continues.  In addition to presenting their projects participants are asked to evaluate successes and failures of the projects – in particular, how their work may help make change in the museum.

Conservation Treatments – Archaeological Materials will be a series of projects where participants go through the entire treatment process to create portfolio reports.  Items will be selected based on the interests and skills of the participants and the kinds of materials they may have to work on in their home institution.  Materials may include ceramics, glass, stone, cuneiform tablets, metals or others to be decided on in consultation with local museums, excavations and participants.

Packing and Basic Mountmaking for Artifacts will cover two practical aspects of ensuring the security and safety of artifacts that go on display.  Safe, secure and archival techniques for preparing items for transport will be practiced.  Simple techniques for making mounts, which is often a final step in a good conservation treatment, will also be shared and practiced. 

Finishing Treatments and Finalizing Portfolios will be two weeks where participants and teachers will review and finalize all treatments, documentation, publication and advocacy projects that they have carried out throughout the year to ensure that work is finished, of the highest standard, and well represents the training they have received at the Iraqi Institute.

Public Presentation Week. Second-year participants will plan organize and host an open-house in collaboration with the first-year students that shares their portfolios and other outreach and documentation projects carried out by first-year and second-year participants in 2012.

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu