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5. General Session [clear filter]
Thursday, May 31


Opening General Session - Welcome and Awards
avatar for Margaret Holben Ellis

Margaret Holben Ellis

Chair; Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU
Margaret Holben Ellis received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Barnard College, Columbia University (1975) and completed her Master’s Degree in Art History and Advanced Certificate in Conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (1979). In... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 8:20am - 9:00am
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston


Materiality and Immateriality in Conserving Contemporary Art
Conservators of contemporary art have responded to conceptual, ephemeral, and time-based media with new theoretical models and strategies for practice. Along with the need for new approaches to manage variability and change on a conceptual level, material matters persist in the new objects of contemporary art. Collected materials include deteriorated plastics, desiccated food, and obsolete playback equipment. Following artist expressions about their work, these objects may be conserved in a traditional manner or may be allowed to deteriorate over time. They may also be replicated or be migrated to new technologies.
 An examination of recent literature reveals tensions in discussions of materiality and immateriality for contemporary conservation objects. Often these tensions derive from artist statements, or directives regarding the future disposition of their work. Some authors write about the language of materials, with concern when unintended alteration communicates new meaning to the viewer. Others point to patina that develops on material manifestations of conceptual art that were meant to be ephemeral but were nonetheless collected. Interviews with artists expose complex responses to the status of these accidental testaments from past installations.  Time-based media conservators face similar dilemmas, for example with commercial monitors purchased somewhat randomly by artists such as Nam June Paik. They accrue historic value over time and are seen as important evidence of the past, regardless of the artist’s original intentions.
Some recent models for understanding materiality and immateriality in contemporary art are adapted from theory across the humanities and social sciences. Nelson Goodman’s distinction between autographic (object-based) works and allographic (performed and re-produced) helps us understand authenticity in variable works that radically change through migration and replication.  Similarly, the model of object biography was adapted from anthropology to conceptualize both physical changes and the layering of social meanings that artworks accrue over the course of their lives.
Conservators of contemporary art also draw from theory, practice, and professional ethics developed for traditional conservation objects to help them navigate new issues around materiality and authenticity. Recent attention has been given to the likes of Ruskin, le-Duc, Riegl, and Brandi to revisit earlier questions of preservation vs. use, noble and vile patina, and aesthetic reintegration in conservation. Notions of risk, sustainability, and minimal intervention also influence recent thinking about the materials of contemporary art.
This presentation will trace how material and immaterial matters are treated in contemporary art conservation literature and emerging models for practice. Through analysis of the literature, an argument will be made that the values and professional ethics developed for traditional conservation objects serve new models for objects of contemporary art that are less bound by traditional material concerns.

avatar for Glenn Wharton

Glenn Wharton

Clinical Professor, Museum Studies, New York University
Glenn Wharton is a Clinical Professor in Museum Studies at New York University. From 2007-2013 he served as Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art, where he established the time-based media conservation program for video, performance, and software-based collections. In 2006... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 9:00am - 9:30am
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston


Practicing what we preach: An argument for the recognition and preservation of a material culture of conservation
Though we often think of modern conservation as a “young” field, the truth is that our history becomes longer with every passing day. The importance of establishing a historical record for our field has long been recognized. Substantial progress has been made through efforts such as the establishment in 1975 of the FAIC Oral History Project and more recent scholarship that considers the history of key figures, institutions, and events. Some important aspects of our history, however, have still received little to no attention. This presentation argues that, in addition to the development of a historical record, it is important to recognize and preserve the material culture of conservation. As exemplified by the theme of this year’s AIC meeting, the conservation field is partly defined by materials: those that we preserve, but also those that we use in our work. So, too, is our history. Examples of this material culture range from those objects which are already symbolic of conservation, such as Edward Forbe’s pigment collection, to historical treatment records and photography, to previously conserved objects that now serve not only as an example of the history of their own genres, but also as an indication of conservation's past and development. The preservation and future study of these objects in the context of the history of conservation will be integral to the success of ongoing scholarship in the history of conservation and of closely allied fields such as museology and art history. Study of field-specific material culture has long been an important aspect of the history of medicine, science, and archeology. This presentation will use examples of this scholarship and its effects to argue for the importance of recognizing the existence of a material culture of conservation, identifying which artifacts may fit into this category, and taking steps to preserve them now. After all, if we do not preserve our own history, who will?

avatar for Carrie McNeal

Carrie McNeal

PhD Student, Brock University
Carrie McNeal is a student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program at Brock University in St. Catherine, Ontario. Her current research explores the history of conservation in the museum setting. She is the former Director of Conservation at The Strong in Rochester, New York... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 9:30am - 10:00am
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston


Preserving Innovation: Considering the Treatment and Materiality of 3D Printed Objects in Museum Collections
As of 2018, it is now possible to 3D print a vast array of object-types including art, jewellery, clothing, medication, bones, and human organs. 3D printing also has an emerging presence in the cultural heritage and museum sectors: there have been 3D printing exhibitions at various institutions, with an increasing number of 3D printed objects accessioned into the permanent collections of museums. Despite the increased popularity of 3D printing and its use in the museum world, it is curious that greater consideration has not yet been given to the conservation of 3D printed objects. There seems to be no academic information or journal articles that describe the correct handling or treatment of 3D manufactured objects, with most literature focused on 3D scanning and printing as methods of digital preservation and replication. Due to the dearth of information on the conservation of 3D printed objects, this presentation will attempt to begin a dialogue on the matter. The intent is to demonstrate the complexity and scope of knowledge required for the conservation of 3D printed objects, as well as how conservators should understand and subsequently approach their unique and varied materiality. In 2013, London’s Science Museum put on a temporary exhibition entitled “3D: Printing the Future.” The exhibition included approximately 600 3D printed objects, which were composed of many different materials (including plaster, plastic, metal, ceramic, and animal cells) and were manufactured through a wide range of 3D printing processes. In 2015, close to 10% of the objects were accessioned into the permanent collection. Conservators at the museum must now devise a treatment plan with no information or precedent to guide them, as they confront the possibility of future degradation or damage to the objects. This presentation is based upon research and work as an objects conservator at the museum, and the contention that in order to provide optimal care and implement appropriate treatments upon an object, or group of objects, there must be a basic understanding of the object-type. The Science Museum’s exhibition “3D: Printing the Future” is an ideal lens through which to view the potential for conserving 3D printed objects as they are produced today. Expanding upon the exhibition, the paper discusses the applicability of existing conservation guidelines and practice when considering 3D printed objects. As new materials are developed, and 3D printed objects become more integrated into contemporary culture and manufacturing, they will undoubtedly become increasingly accessioned into museum collections. It will, therefore, become essential to understand how to ensure their longevity. This presentation confronts many issues, including the need for adequate documentation, the possibility of replication, the extent to which 3D printing presents new conservation challenges, and, significantly, how can and should these objects be conserved?

avatar for Vanessa Applebaum

Vanessa Applebaum

Objects Conservator, Science Museum, London
Vanessa Applebaum is an Objects Conservator at the Science Museum in London. Her research interests include the conservation of modern materials, Byzantine art, ethnographic and medical collections, as well as the public understanding of the field of conservation.

Thursday May 31, 2018 11:00am - 11:30pm
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston


The Physical Nature of Digital & What it Means for Conservation
In working with digital collections, we are often asked, “What is digital? Where are the collection materials actually held? What does digital collection’s storage look like?” In an increasingly wifi-bluetooth-mobile-data world, digital can seem invisible to us as end users, however the digital world is highly dependent on technology that has material form- physical hardware, network wiring, and often entire buildings of carefully monitored and controlled infrastructure. What does this mean for art conservators? The material science of digital files held in our care is important to consider: how a file is constructed and how it tells us how it needs to be opened, played, or understood. However, equally important is the storage that those files are held on, how they are transferred from one place to another, and how they are handled at each stage of this move. What are the physical aspects that make up the storage environments of digital storage? And which of these aspects are critical for us to understand as conservators? The NDSR Levels of Digital Preservation provide a nice one-sheet listing tiered guidelines for storage, integrity, security, etc. for a digital preservation system, and the OAIS reference model gives us a framework from which to build out our digital preservation storage. But what is digital preservation storage, anyway? Is it specific hardware that is different than other digital storage that we purchase for our personal lives? For the past 10 years, the Library of Congress has been convening an annual “Storage Meeting” to discuss digital storage for collections material among collection holders and storage technologists. And out of the iPres2016 workshop, and now in draft form, is an initiative to create guidelines for collecting organizations on Preservation Storage Criteria. These are a good start to understanding digital preservation storage and may lead us towards a conversation on digital conservation practices When we understand the material nature of the digital world around us and the physical components that make up our digital ecosystem, we can more effectively care for our digital collections through the lens of the conservation field, create policies and assess risks in digital care and handling, and work productively and in partnership with our IT colleagues.

avatar for Crystal Sanchez

Crystal Sanchez

Conservator, Smithsonian Institution
Crystal Sanchez is a media archivist at the Smithsonian Institution on the Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), working with digital collections from across the Smithsonian’s diverse Museums, Archives, Libraries, Research Centers, and the Zoo. She has Masters degrees from New... Read More →
avatar for Lauren Sorensen

Lauren Sorensen

Consultant, Self-employed
Lauren Sorensen is a consultant specializing in digital preservation and conservation, project management, independent media, and artist archives. Concurrently a PhD student in UCLA's Information Studies program, she has held positions at the Library of Congress, Bay Area Video Coalition... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 11:30am - 12:00pm
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston


Opening General Session Discussion Session
Thursday May 31, 2018 12:00pm - 12:30pm
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston
Friday, June 1


(Imaging Technology) High-Resolution Imaging as a new Research Tool in the Rijksmuseum
With the conservation treatment of the two pendant portraits by the Dutch 17th-century Master, Rembrandt van Rijn (Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, 1634, canvas, 207.5 x 132 cm, SK-A-5033, SK-C-1768), newly acquired by the Dutch and French Governments, the Rijksmuseum saw an opportunity to push their photographic imaging capabilities even further. Although the Rijksmuseum has a well-established imaging protocol, including consistent lighting and end-to-end color management, it was decided, given the importance of the paintings and their conservation treatment, to utilize high resolution (1200 ppi) and multiple imaging modalities. Additionally, in order to better understand the physical condition of the pictures, they were imaged at each stage of conservation using the same imaging techniques, facilitating high-precision stitching and registration of images of both paintings and across wavelengths. The stitched and registered images, each exceeding 6 gigapixels, were then visualized using the “curtain viewer”, an internet-based image viewing technology developed by Erdmann for the Bosch research and conservation project. For this high resolution photography the museum faced several challenges. For the overall images of these large paintings, a total of 242 images were required. This amounts to approximately 70 Gb per painting per imaging modality. The maximum storage capacity of the Rijksmuseum’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) software is currently only 2 Gb per file. It was also an enormous undertaking to stitch such a large number of composite images and register them for use in the curtain viewers, enabling the conservators to fluidly switch from an overall image to the micro level and back using only the mouse wheel. In this way different technical and chemical images of the paintings, including X-radiographs, ultraviolet fluorescence images, infrared photographs and reflectograms and elemental maps acquired with macro-XRF scanning could be selected and compared ‘side by side’ using the curtain viewer. Despite the challenges, the images have been indispensable for the conservation treatment, providing insight into painting technique and condition including degradation phenomena. For example, lead soap aggregates can clearly be discerned in the high resolution visible light images, and remnants of older coatings in the high resolution UV images. By comparing photographs from before, during and after treatment the conservators could precisely track the area of interest during different stages of treatment. This paper presents the impressive benefits for conservation and research of such a large multimodal data set resulting from the combination of high resolution and multiple imaging modalities. We argue that such imaging strategies could serve as a standard in the future, both for art-historical and conservation research, as well as for comprehensive documentation of the state of a painting and its treatment.

avatar for Susan Smelt

Susan Smelt

Junior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Susan Smelt is a junior paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Amsterdam with an MA and Professional Doctorate in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings. During the two-year postinitial phase she worked at the Stichting Restauratie... Read More →

avatar for Robert Erdmann

Robert Erdmann

Senior Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
With the latest techniques in the field of computer vision, machine learning, image processing, materials science and visualization theory Erdmann works to preserve, understand and make accessible visual artistic heritage. He is currently a Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum. Also... Read More →
avatar for Rik Klein Gotink

Rik Klein Gotink

Photographer, Rijksmuseum
Rik Klein Gotink studied photography at the Institute of the Arts (ARTEZ) Enschede. Prior to that, he studied Applied Physics for two years at the University of Twente. The combination of photography, becoming more and more technical, and physics proved to be very effective in his... Read More →
avatar for Petria Noble

Petria Noble

Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
As Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum since 2014, Petria has expanded the department, laying more emphasis on research into the materials and techniques of artists' as well as those of conservation. Originally from Australia, Petria Noble carried out her post-graduate... Read More →
avatar for Gwen Tauber

Gwen Tauber

Senior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Gwen Tauber has been a painting conservator in the Rijks Museum since 1990 and is primarily concerned with the treatment of paintings, their examination and treatment documentation. She works in the midst of an interdisciplinary team comprised of conservators, scientists and curators... Read More →

Carola van Wijk

Photographer, Rijksmuseum
If necessary, can be provided later.

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Long-Form Concurrent Session) Arts Recovery After Hurricane Harvey
Harvey Arts Recovery Fund (HARF) is a first-of-its-kind initiative dedicated to supporting the creative community in the aftermath of a natural disaster. HARF was created as a volunteer collaboration among multiple organizations to meet the substantial needs of the Houston arts and cultural sector during Hurricane Harvey. As such, HARF is emerging as a national model for community-based disaster recovery in the arts.   
A collaborative effort of Houston’s art and culture services sector, HARF is focused on supporting small and mid-sized arts, culture, and history non-profit organizations as well as individual artists, musicians, performers, writers, heritage preservationists, and other cultural producers whose ability to support themselves was derailed following Hurricane Harvey.  In these communities, relief can be as simple as a new theater wardrobe and as critical as replacing revenue lost from cancelled performances. HARF funds provide recovery support across the 10-county Greater Houston region including Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Chambers, Austin, and San Jacinto counties.
HARF is an example of cooperative and collective leadership, which was provided by Galveston Historical Foundation, Fresh Arts, Dance Source Houston, CultureWorks Greater Houston, The Center for Arts and Social Engagement at the University of Houston, Houston Arts Alliance and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Houston, with funding support from Houston Endowment.

avatar for John Abodeely

John Abodeely

Chief Executive Officer, Houston Arts Alliance (HAA)
John Abodeely is Chief Executive Officer of Houston Arts Alliance (HAA). Joining HAA in November of 2017, he brings a strong background in arts and arts education policy as the Acting Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, service as Manager... Read More →
avatar for Marci Regan Dallas

Marci Regan Dallas

executive director, Fresh Arts
Marci Regan Dallas is executive director of Fresh Arts, a service organization that nurtures a local arts ecosystem designed to position artists and creative entrepreneurs for success. Dallas holds an MA in Art History and an MBA. She is a graduate of Christie's Art and Business... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Hunters Creek Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) The Colors of Desire: Examination of Colorants in the Beauties of the Yoshiwara
Woodblock prints, first produced in Japan during the sixth to eighth century, progressed from early black line prints, sometimes with hand-applied color, to vibrant full color printed images by late 18th century. Publishing proliferated in response to the literate population’s desire for books and affordable imagery. Prints and printed books, with or without illustrations, became an integral part of daily life. Known broadly as ukiyo-e, literally meaning pictures of the floating world, these prints depicted Kabuki actors, beautiful women, scenes from history or legend, views of Edo, landscapes, and erotica. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) collection of Japanese woodblock prints numbers over 50,000, representing the full-range Japanese woodblock printing development. From 1998, when the first conservator dedicated to this collection was hired, work has been ongoing to document, treat, and re-house this vast collection and thus enable its use in exhibitions, scholarship, and research. While numerous literature studies have been conducted on the history of the printing techniques and materials, the MFA’ s study is the first to use a combination of visual and non-invasive spectroscopic techniques to systematically identify the thin layer(s) of inorganic and organic colorants on Japanese woodblock prints. The combination of the large study set and the ideal analysis techniques have provided the MFA with the unique opportunity to fully characterize the palette and techniques on these prints. To illustrate the range of results obtained from this large-scale study, this presentation will examine a sampling of the techniques and palette used for the 1770 printing Harunobu’s five volumes of Beauties of the Yoshiwara. Every illustration was surveyed using a stereo binocular microscope to determine which colors were overprinted to create new tones. The illustrations were also viewed under ultraviolet radiation to reveal the characteristic fluorescence or absorption properties of the individual colors. Following these visual inspections, colors were examined by three spectroscopic analysis methods that did not require sampling. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) provided information on the chemical elements found in inorganic pigments. The red and yellow organic colorants, such as madder, safflower, sappanwood, turmeric, flavonoids, and gamboge, were indicated by Excitation Emission Matrix (EEM) fluorescence. Fiber-optic Reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) was used to readily distinguish between dayflower and indigo blue, even in mixtures that appear green or purple. The parameters of the analysis methods were thoroughly vetted using printed references of traditional Japanese colors that were prepared in-house. This combination of techniques, both visual and spectroscopic, was critical towards gaining a better understanding of the materials and techniques used for the prints.

avatar for Michiko Adachi

Michiko Adachi

Sherman Fairchild Fellow, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Michiko Adachi received an M.A. and Advanced Certificate in Art Conservation in 2016 from the Art Conservation program at Buffalo State College, where she studied paper conservation. She has had previous internships at the Library of Congress and the MFA Boston. As an undergraduate... Read More →
avatar for Michele Derrick

Michele Derrick

Scientist/Researcher, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Michele R. Derrick is a chemist and conservation scientist with more than twenty years’ experience analyzing and characterizing materials. She worked at the University of Arizona Analytical Center and then for twelve years as a conservation scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute... Read More →

avatar for Richard Newman

Richard Newman

Head of Scientific Research, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Richard Newman is Head of Scientific Research at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he has worked as a research scientist since 1986. He has a BA in Art History (Western Washington University), MA in Geology (Boston University) and completed a 3-year apprenticeship in conservation... Read More →

Joan Wright-[PA]

Bettina Burr Conservator, Asian Conservation, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Joan Wright is the Bettina Burr Conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where she has worked since 1998. She is the conservator in charge of the care of Japanese woodblock prints, Indian and Islamic paintings and illustrated books and manuscripts. From 2005-2010 with museum... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Transfers & Translations) Tauba Auerbach’s Altar/Engine: a case study in reconceptualizing materiality
On December 12, 2016 the Museum of Modern Art acquired Tauba Auerbach’s 2015 work Altar/Engine. The work consists of seventy-six Rhino files 3D printed into individual plastic components of various types, resins, and finishes that are subsequently installed in a specific pattern on a nine-foot square highly finished painted aluminum platform and stainless steel base. It quickly became apparent to the artist and MoMA staff that in the short time since its creation, many of the material aspects had changed in significant and unacceptable ways. This paper will examine the steps the artist and MoMA took to ensure the work met the desired standards of the artist which resulted in a collective redefinition of its materiality. This redefinition, or reconceptualization, impacts its treatment, display, and long-term care. Fifteen of the seventy-six 3D printed components significantly changed since their 2015 creation and were subsequently reprinted by the artist after acquisition. Changes were primarily indicated by breaks in the 3D printed structures or in deformation of coiled forms. The components are printed in four distinct visual types: white, black, frosted clear, and gold. The components in need of reprinting were the white, frosted clear, and painted gold types. This process revealed necessary changes in aspects of the printing process from the resin to the printing company that resulted in alterations to the texture and appearance of the components. Although accepted and approved by the artist, these changes led to a dialogue with the artist to develop MoMA’s understanding of the artist’s parameters of visual and material acceptance as well as a protocol for caring for the work moving forward. The goal of these initial reprinting efforts was to increase the stability of the components for long term storage and display. However, their complexity and fragile nature will likely necessitate future printing by the artist and/or MoMA. This brings up larger questions of the relationship of the Rhino files with their 3D physical counterparts and where the work’s fundamental materiality is located. Changes in files, software obsolescence, upgrades in printing and polymer technology can all drastically impact a work depending on the definition of its materiality. As contemporary artists are gravitating to new materials and methods, this case study will illustrate MoMA’s examination of the relatively nascent method of 3D printing. Combining expertise from various disciplines of conservation, namely sculpture, media, and science, MoMA is developing its approach to the long term care of 3D printed material. This strategy considers its evolving status both in the artist’s practice as well as mutable objects in the collection, touching on issues of maintenance, storage, and travel. This paper will also explore the possibility of refabricating components in the future, while addressing the likelihood of changing technologies with regards to the media files, the printing process, and polymer technology.

avatar for Peter Oleksik

Peter Oleksik

Associate Media Conservator, Museum of Modern Art
Peter Oleksik is an Assistant Media Conservator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He holds an MA in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) from New York University, where he is currently an Adjunct Professor teaching video preservation. His past work includes the access... Read More →
avatar for Megan Randall

Megan Randall

Conservation Fellow, Museum of Modern Art
Megan Randall is an Assistant Projects Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art. She completed her conservation training at the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts. Megan spent her internship year at the Museum of Modern Art (2014-2015). She has also completed internships... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Moose on the Move: Relocation and Conservation of the Bell Museum’s Diorama Murals
Established by the state legislature in 1872, the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History has a long history of preserving, researching, and displaying the diverse plant and wildlife of Minnesota. In the late 1930’s, then president of General Mills and conservationist James Ford Bell, helped provide funds to construct a dedicated museum building on the Minneapolis campus, which opened in 1940. The driving force behind Bell’s contribution was his desire to educate the public about Minnesota’s diverse wildlife and habitats, and encourage public support for their protection, especially declining species such as the gray wolf. The Bell museum was designed specifically to showcase sixteen large-scale dioramas, as well as several small and medium size dioramas. The first diorama constructed in the new space was the Gray wolf diorama sited on the shores of Lake Superior, with a background painted by well known American wildlife artist and Minnesota native Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969). Over two decades, Jaques painted a total of nine large scale and many small diorama backgrounds for the Bell Museum, creating an internationally recognized collection with a focus on Minnesota’s wildlife and diverse ecosystems. Over time the dioramas didn’t appear to change, however, the building around them posed serious challenges and limitations. Poor climate control, reoccurring water infiltration, lack of handicap accessibility, and poor public access created the need to discuss options. After ten years of debate and planning, the decision was made to build a new Bell Museum on the St. Paul campus, opening summer of 2018, which would include the move of Jaques’ nine large scale dioramas and a tenth painted by Charles Abel Corwin in 1919. The planning phase also lead to the creation of a project team, including Bell museum staff, a construction crew, conservators, riggers, and museum specialists. Examination of the painted murals by conservators indicated that removing the canvas from the wall was not viable as it would severely damage the painted image and create a health hazard. Due to the size of the murals and constraints of the existing building the best option was to move the mural walls in three parts. Therefore, a plan was developed in which the murals would be stabilized, cut, secured with armature, and rigged out of the building. The team carried out a test move in January 2016. After the test was completed successfully, the project was fully approved and in January 2017 the diorama move began. While moving the foreground material was part of the overall scope of the project, this presentation will focus on the relocation and conservation of the murals. Preparation, structural fortification and rigging, reassembly and conservation of the components in the new building will be covered. Completion of the project yielded murals intact and structurally stable with no visible sign of the adventure they had been on.


Luke Boehnke

Principal, Wolf Magritte LLC
Luke Boehnke is the principal of Wolf Magritte LLC, located in Missoula Montana. Wolf Magritte specializes in design, fabrication, and rigging for difficult and/or large scale art and artifact installations. Luke Boehnke received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago... Read More →

Kristine Jeffcoat-[PA]

Paintings Conservator, Midwest Art Conservation Center
Ms. Jeffcoat joined MACC in 2014. She has extensive experience in the care and preservation of paintings and painted surfaces, including canvas paintings, panel paintings, and painted sculpture, as well as Preventive Conservation. Prior to joining MACC, she worked at West Lake Conservators... Read More →


Tom Amble

Museum Preparator, Bell Museum of Natural History
Tom is a Museum Preparator with the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, where he brings 30 years of experience fabricating exhibits, mountmaking, artifact installation, and coordinating traveling exhibits. His museum experience started with the... Read More →
avatar for Megan Emery-[Fellow]

Megan Emery-[Fellow]

Chief Conservator and Senior Objects Conservator, Midwest Art Conservation Center
Ms. Emery came to MACC from the Cincinnati Art Museum, where she was responsible for the care and preservation of all three-dimensional objects. Ms. Emery has extensive experience with ethnographic and archaeological materials, ceramics, lacquer, plasters, and the conservation of... Read More →
avatar for Don Luce

Don Luce

Curator of Exhibits, Bell Museum of Natural History
For over thirty years, Don Luce has been integrating art and science in the design and development of natural history exhibitions. He holds a degree in Zoology and a master’s degree in Medical and Biological Illustration from the University of Michigan, where he started his museum... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) Modern Materials: Not Our Fault, But Our Problem. Reflections on the Development of Conservation Treatments in Private Practice
The conservation of contemporary art, in private practice in New York City, operates within a vibrant and fast-paced art market. Contemporary Conservation Ltd. is daily challenged to strike a balance between the artist’s intent, the unavoidable physical changes that materials undergo, and the satisfaction of our clients. Artworks entering the studio cannot be treated as if they exist in a vacuum. The decision-making process is guided by all parties involved, which can include: artists, galleries, auction houses, private collectors, insurance agencies, and appraisers. Treatment solutions need to be developed quickly with everyone’s consent, while adhering to a framework of practices of conservation ethics. Works made of modern materials - especially plastics with industrially finished surfaces - are deceivingly considered robust and unbreakable. An artwork made of unstable material can be subject to rapid unintentional deterioration, while lack of material knowledge may damage the work during handling and transportation. Restoring industrially finished surfaces is often challenging and requires extensive testing and research. However, conservators in private practice lack the resources available to museums, dedicated time and an allocated budget for research. Therefore, a more treatment-based approach is needed and solutions are often achieved by trial and error. These two case studies on the conservation of artworks made of plastics illustrate this decision-making process, arising material challenges and the limits of physical treatment within private practice. Since the 1970s the prolific John McCracken (1934-2011) created highly polished polyester columns and planks. The pristine surfaces of these sculptures scratch easily, resulting in an overall dull appearance, which diminishes the experience of the artwork and compromises its authenticity. Over six years 20 works have come into the studio demanding a systematic approach - the refinement of a polishing technique that allowed treating large surfaces in an adequate time frame. During the course of several months, research was carried out and an exhaustive list of materials and techniques were tested until a well-balanced result was achieved. Between 2004 and 2012, Seth Price (b. 1973), a multi-disciplinary artist, created wall reliefs made of thermoformed high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) sheets. Due to the inherent brittleness of polystyrene and the tension induced during the production process, a number of these panels have developed cracks, which are not only visually disturbing but also structurally weaken the artwork. An immediate stabilization method for the cracks was necessary to prevent further exacerbation before it reaches a condition beyond recovery. Further research and testing is currently being carried out in order to assess and optimize the method. Meanwhile the degradation of the polystyrene will unavoidably progress and the shelf life of these artworks will always remain in question. Much can be gained by comparing the approach these two specific sets of problems present. With the current high turnover rate in the contemporary art market, it is becoming increasingly important to take the time to reflect on the quality of our treatments, their longevity, reversibility and how these actions preserve the artists’ or artworks’ legacy.

avatar for Giuliana Moretto

Giuliana Moretto

Associate Conservator, Contemporary Conservation Ltd
As Associate Conservator at Contemporary Conservation Ltd. since 2009, Giuliana focuses on the conservation of objects and paintings in non-traditional materials – including bubble gum, chocolate and plastics – and innovative artistic techniques, such as Inkjet printing, vacuum-formed... Read More →
avatar for Delia Müller Wüsten

Delia Müller Wüsten

Associate Conservator, Contemporary Conservation Ltd.
Delia Müller-Wüsten has been an Associate Conservator at Contemporary Conservation Ltd. since 2012. She specializes in the conservation of artworks made of synthetic materials such as latex and synthetic resins, and has expertise on highly-polished surfaces from artists such as... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston


(Imaging Technology) A Study of Two Picasso Blue Period paintings in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, La Miséreuse accroupie (1902) and La Soupe (1903)
In anticipation of a multi-disciplinary exhibition devoted to a reassessment of Picasso's Blue Period (with the Phillips Collection, Washington, in 2020) the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) engaged Senior Imaging Scientist John Delaney and the special expertise of scientists at Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago (NU-ACCESS) to study two important Picasso Blue Period paintings:  La Miséreuse accroupie (1902) and La Soupe (1902-3).  The research has provided valuable insights into the artist's process with a particular focus on his materials, the relationship of underpainting to the visible composition, the chronology of the pentimenti and the relationship of all forms to extant drawings and other paintings of the period. Diffuse hyperspectral infrared reflectography was used to expand on the results of traditional infrared reflectography and x-radiography of both paintings. Fibre optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) was also collected from numerous sites to help with pigment identification. Hyperspectral image cubes consisting of ~200 images (spectral range 967 to 1680 nm) were generated. Significant changes in composition were revealed in both paintings. One of the major findings was that La Miséreuse accroupie is painted over another composition estimated to be by an artist and friend of Picasso, in Barcelona at the time. In addition, reflectance transformation imaging combined with photometric stereo provided detailed information about the brush strokes as well as the application of colour, and served to clarify complexity in the surface texture. New findings were further explored with point and 2D macro-X-Ray Fluorescence analyses. Elemental maps revealed more subtle changes in the composition of the underlying paint layers. It also helped selecting sites from which cross-sections were sampled, to potentially elucidate the chronology of the image changes. A complex stratigraphy was frequently revealed. Micro-sampling analyses allowed further differentiation of the artist's palette in the development of the painting and will be discussed within the context of current Blue Period Research. In depth studies of Pablo Picasso’s painting materials and techniques, though rare in the past, have seen a resurgence in the past ten years. This study is exemplary because of the high level of integration of curatorial, conservation and conservation science research. Curatorial input on visual sources for the artist, in the form of related drawings and artworks has accompanied the analytical campaign hand in hand, influencing, directing and inspiring interpretation of the scientific imaging. Furthermore, two different groups of scientific experts have been involved, thus pushing the limit of interdisciplinary research beyond the boundaries of a single discipline or institution in a fully integrated, not consultancy-based framework. This study greatly enhances our knowledge of the AGO Picasso Blue Period paintings and their relationship to other paintings and drawings of the period by drawing on a global network of experts and increasing body of knowledge.

avatar for Sandra Webster Cook

Sandra Webster Cook

Conservator of Paintings, Historical and Modern, Art Gallery of Ontario
Sandra Webster-Cook became an employee of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 1987. She is currently responsible for the conservation of the historical and modern paintings in the collection of the AGO. Her work on the Canadian Historical collection included research on the paintings... Read More →

avatar for Kenneth Brummel

Kenneth Brummel

Assistant Curator of Modern Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
Kenneth Brummel has been the Art Gallery of Ontario’s assistant curator of modern art since August 2014. A specialist in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century international modernism, he has undertaken different curatorial roles at the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Museum of Fine... Read More →
avatar for Francesca Casadio

Francesca Casadio

Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist and Co-director NU-ACCESS, The Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University
Francesca Casadio joined the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003 to establish and direct a state of the art conservation science laboratory. In January 2018, she will assume the post of Executive Director of Conservation and Science in the same institution. Dr. Casadio has also established... Read More →
avatar for John Delaney

John Delaney

Senior Imaging Scientist, National Gallery of Art
John K. Delaney, Ph.D. is the Senior Imaging Scientist at the National Gallery of Art, where his research focuses on the development and application of remote sensing imaging methods for the study of works of art.
avatar for Gianluca Pastorelli

Gianluca Pastorelli

Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern/ARTIC Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
avatar for Emeline Pouyet

Emeline Pouyet

Post doctoral fellow, Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago
Emeline Pouyet is a post-doctoral fellow at the NU-ACCESS center (Chicago, U.S.A). She received her M.S. degree in Archaeometry in 2010 and completed her Ph.D. studies in 2014 at the ID21 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France). Her activities focused... Read More →
avatar for Marc Sebastian Walton

Marc Sebastian Walton

Co-Director, Research Professor, Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
Marc Walton joined the Northwestern University / Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts in 2013 as its inaugural Senior Scientist and as a Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. In January of 2018, he was appointed... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) Explosive Beauty: Material Studies of Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang is one of the most prominent contemporary Chinese artists active today. Based in New York, he works and exhibits internationally. Cai uses a wide variety of media, including paintings, installations, videos, but has become especially known for his systematic use of gunpowder to create gunpowder drawings and paintings, some of them on a very large scale. For almost three decades, he worked mostly with black gunpowder but has recently (2015) started using colored gunpowders to produce more sensuous and lavish compositions. He also uses gunpowders and fireworks to create ephemeral explosion events and community projects. Cai’s works encapsulates many of the issues inherent to contemporary art, such as the adoption of a non-artistic process as a signature medium, as well as working across a wide variety of genres and media including some traditional ones all the way to ephemeral practices, community participation and the incorporation of new technologies. The GCI has embarked on a collaboration with the studio to systematically document the materials and processes used by Cai Guo-Qiang for his work across media. The goal is to understand how the adoption of gunpowder has influenced Cai’s artistic practice; how his use of materials has evolved throughout his career; and the artist’s attitude towards materials, making, and conservation. The interdisciplinary approach combines numerous interviews with the artist, technical examination of a large corpus of gunpowder drawings, paintings and installations (including early transitional works mixing painting with gunpowder), scientific analyses, as well as the use of microfadeometry and artificial weathering to predict the aging of some of his work such as the colored gunpowder paintings. This paper will detail the findings of the project to date and explore the role that material studies can play in the understanding, interpretation, display, presentation and preservation of Cai’s work.

avatar for Rachel Rivenc

Rachel Rivenc

Associate Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Rachel Rivenc has been working within the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative at the GCI since 2006. She is currently an associate scientist. She studies the diverse materials and techniques used by contemporary artists, and their conservation. She is currently leading... Read More →

avatar for Vincent L. Beltran

Vincent L. Beltran

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Vincent Beltran joined GCI Science in 2002. He has been an active participant in a range of research projects including the mechanical characterization of historic materials, the effect of reduced oxygen environments on color change, evaluations of packing case performance during... Read More →
avatar for Vincent Dion

Vincent Dion

Conservator-Methodologist, ERM - Estonian National Museum
Vincent Dion graduated from the Master in Art Conservation program at Queen's University in 2016 with a specialization in works on paper and new media. Subsequently, his interest in modern materials and background studies in chemistry led him to join the Modern and Contemporary Art... Read More →
avatar for Michael Doutre

Michael Doutre

Research Lab Associate, Getty Conservation Institute
Michael Doutre joined the GCI in 2016 to work on the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative focusing on the characterization of paints used on contemporary outdoor painted sculpture, the degradation of plastics used in cultural heritage, and the effects of cleaning treatments... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Transfers & Translations) Whitney Replication Committee: Transparency in the Age of Reproduction
Since its 2008 inception, The Whitney Museum of American Art's Replication Committee has explored ethical and practical considerations related to the reproducibility of works of art in the collections for purposes assocated with the Museum's mission. Museum objects have been replicated, reformatted, and altered in various ways for a variety of reasons. While transformation has always been a part of the history of museum objects, these types of interventions have become even more pervasive in the last decade, especially as a conservation treatment option. Often, these activities have a profound impact on the object itself, either physically, conceptually, or both.

At the outset of Committee discussions, it became clear that it was necessary to frame the context for replication by defining a set of vocabularies and language through which the range of such practices is understood. Initially, it was believed that the development of such protocols would subsequently apply to other artworks under review. However, the thinking of the group began to evolve as the Committee attempted to contextualize replicated works.

Using replication case studies, the presenters will outline the dynamics of the Committee's decision making process. They will explain the rationale used to define the Museum's institutional criteria for works that are fabricated, refabricated, or replicated, and the challenges in establishing systems which capture transformations that are more complex in nature. This process includes producing transparent information and documentation, clearly alerting our audiences to these changes, and allowing for a more complete understanding of the work as a materialized object at a moment in time.

avatar for Margo Delidow-[PA]

Margo Delidow-[PA]

Assistant Conservator, Whitney Museum of American Art
Margo Delidow, Assistant Conservator for the Whitney Museum of American Art completed a Masters of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Study in Conservation from the Art Conservation Program at Buffalo State, The State University of New York. She is a partner at Whryta Contemporary Art... Read More →
avatar for Clara Rojas Sebesta

Clara Rojas Sebesta

Assistant Conservator, Whitney Museum of American Art
Clara Rojas-Sebesta, Assistant Conservator for the Whitney Museum of American Art, is a graduate of the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, with a specialization in works of art on paper. She also holds degrees in art history from Cornell University... Read More →

avatar for Farris Wahbeh

Farris Wahbeh

Benjamin and Irma Weiss Director of Research Resources, Whitney Museum
Farris Wahbeh, Benjamin and Irma Weiss Director of Research Resources, Whitney Museum of American Art, has experience with collections that house archival materials ranging from the eighteenth century to art collections of the twenty-first. Mr. Wahbeh is also a Visiting Assistant... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Preserving Penn’s Woods: The restoration of the Mammal Hall dioramas at the State Museum of Pennsylvania
The Hall of Mammals was one of the first permanent exhibitions planned for the State Museum of Pennsylvania (SMOP) in Harrisburg. It opened to the public in 1968 after almost a decade of research, preparation and construction by a team of artists and scientists. In the years since, it has remained beloved by visitors. The space features thirteen site specific habitat dioramas. These large-scale exhibitions incorporate taxidermy, dried plant specimens and fabricated plant materials, all arranged within a sculpted foreground that ties in with a curved illusionistic background painting. The dioramas were individually designed to depict groups of animals at a known location, season and time of day. This sense of place was reinforced by attention to detail in lighting, pose and positioning of specimens.
Many similar exhibits were installed in institutions across the country, not only in Natural History museums, but also in more general and university collections whose staff often designed versions to elucidate the indigenous regional flora and fauna with an educational goal and subtext encouraging land and wildlife conservation. Several of the species depicted in the Mammal Hall were already long extinct in Pennsylvania at the time of construction. Featured creatures range in size from the relatively diminutive striped skunk to the imposing bison. In addition to plants, the illusionistic materials they created include, trees, rock formations, snow, ice, running and still water, eggs, mud and many others.
The media and methods employed in the creation of habitat dioramas are not codified, but rather the practice was local and idiosyncratic. Earlier in the century, dioramas were made from a more predictable pallet of materials. However, the SMOP dioramas comprise a wide range of traditional artist’s materials as well as commercially available products such as modern artist’s materials and commercially fabricated plants, often combined in unusual ways.
Beginning in the Summer of 2016 our team of taxidermists, conservators and artists began a restoration of this historic Mammal Hall. The open design of the light boxes above the diorama shells had long allowed infiltration of particulates and debris into the exhibit spaces. Many of the diorama elements had become discolored from dust and/or fading and some of the plants were no longer configured in a naturalistic manner. The animals had experienced significant fading. The water surfaces were dusty and irregular in their surface sheen and the snow was piled in heavy drifts against the glass at the front of the winter dioramas as the snowfall had often been “topped off” from above. Previous treatment, including a refurbishment in the 1990’s by some of the original artists, had introduced incompatible new materials, overpaint and coatings posing significant treatment challenges. This talk will focus on the documentation and treatment of the dioramas with an examination of the condition of various materials used in the foregrounds and how subsequent treatments affected their longevity and behavior during the current campaign.

avatar for Rachael Perkins Arenstein-[PA]

Rachael Perkins Arenstein-[PA]

Partner, AM Art Conservation LLC
Rachael Perkins Arenstein is a Professional Associate member of the American Institute for Conservation. She is a principal of A.M. Art Conservation, LLC, the private practice that she co-founded in 2009. She has worked at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, the Smithsonian's National... Read More →
avatar for Eugenie Milroy

Eugenie Milroy

Conservator, AM Art Conservation LLC
Eugenie Milroy is a Professional Associate member of the American Institute for Conservation with over 20 years of museum and conservation experience. She has held positions at the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art... Read More →

avatar for George Dante

George Dante

Taxidermist, Wildlife Preservations, LLC
George Dante, Founder, Wildlife Preservations, has more than 30 years of experience as a taxidermist, model maker, illustrator and fine artist.  He has been an artist and naturalist his entire life and formed Wildlife Preservations while in high school.  George continued to develop... Read More →
avatar for Stephen C. Quinn

Stephen C. Quinn

Artistic Director/Consultant, American Museum of Natural History
Stephen C. Quinn is an artist, illustrator, educator, author and naturalist who spent nearly 40 years on the staff of the Exhibition Department of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Beginning his career there in 1974 as an intern to the recognized “old masters” of... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) Managing Expectations in Scrapbook Conservation Approaches
Historic scrapbooks are one of the most problematic formats found in many library, archive, and museum collections due to their complicated and deterioration-prone structures. Unfortunately, they are also one of the formats of greatest interest to historians and genealogists, among others. These often bedraggled books offer a wonderful and unique glimpse into history through the eyes of the individual or group who created them. Although some scrapbooks contain only duplicate printed information, such as newspaper clippings of current events on particular topics or collectable printed cards or illustrations, others contain a wide variety of materials such as photographs, postcards, letters, documents, and realia. In either case, however, scrapbooks can serve as a valuable resource for researchers. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their construction, their previous use, and the deterioration of their contents, many historic scrapbooks are in very poor condition and present a myriad of preservation challenges. These challenges range from binding deterioration and dangerously brittle paper to the often dramatic deterioration of their contents.

At the University of Illinois Library we hold a large number of such historic scrapbooks (nearly 1,000) broadly held in the collections of our University Archives, Student Life and Culture Archives, or Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. Condition, curatorial value, and use of these materials vary greatly, as do expectations from our archivists and curators on what “conservation treatment” may mean when items are brought to the conservation lab. Over the last ten years, treatments have ranged from over 100 hours per item for various full treatment approaches (including maintaining and preserving the original format, or completely removing items from their scrapbook format) to simple boxing, and everything in between. This variability in approaches has been particularly heightened recently by the planning for an upcoming exhibition and digitization project focusing on a single historical scrapbook from our Rare Book and Manuscript Library as well as several incoming requests to remove items from scrapbooks to be permanently housed separately from their original scrapbook. In an attempt to better manage curatorial expectations on what scrapbook treatment may involve and better articulate the benefits and drawbacks of more invasive conservation and/or disbinding, our conservation staff have been developing a more strategized and, perhaps, standardized approach to the conservation treatment of historic scrapbooks. This presentation will give an overview of some of our previous scrapbook treatment approaches, analyze the successes and failures of those treatments, and how we propose to better streamline our treatments as well as to better communicate with curators to arrive at agreed upon treatment approaches that meet their collections and users needs.

avatar for Jennifer Hain Teper-[Fellow]

Jennifer Hain Teper-[Fellow]

Head of Preservation, University of Illinois Library
Jennifer Hain Teper serves as the Velde Preservation Librarian at the University of Illinois Libraries overseeing conservation, collections care, digital preservation, and digitization services throughout the library system. Before her current position began in 2009, she served as... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston


(Long-Form Concurrent Session) Materiality: A Series of Questions
Our recent retirement from actively treating paintings has given us the time to reflect on several aspects of this year’s topic of materials and materiality. These thoughts coalesced into a list of questions about subtopics within the general category of materiality, and some tentative answers to those questions. Both questions and answers address the many changes that we have seen during our more than thirty-five years as conservators, and – more importantly – how we might work to shape future developments in our field.

Questions include:

  • Do we know as much as we think we do about artists’ materials? Our experience as researchers on painting materials tells us: probably not. Many examples bolster this point, from obvious gaps in specific knowledge about the materials used by many artists at many different periods, to the imprecise names of artists’ materials, to how the aging of specific materials sometimes contradicts longstanding perceived wisdom.
  • Can we balance our concern for original materials with other concerns – above all, the aesthetic impact of a work of art? Great progress has been made in the last thirty-five years, but much remains to be discussed in terms of the relative importance of the backs and fronts of paintings, preserving or removing “original” varnishes, and “what would the artist think?” as a valid ingredient in our discussions.
  • Are we communicating with curators and academic art historians about art materials as well as we could? There are many signs of improvement, including summer seminars in technical art history, increasing numbers of art history students who have been taught to care about materials, and literature that takes as its starting point a specific material or color. Curators have always been happy when conservators can provide material evidence that proves authorship or demonstrates a connection between two work of art, but we also see curators beginning to welcome discussions about how a painting’s materials can influence its appearance in more subjective ways, such as understanding a painting’s yellowish color when an artist used too much medium or when a painting cannot be cleaned. Here, too, there is clearly much room for further improvement. Examples include a major misunderstanding on the part of a curator about whether a conservator can tell the difference between a 150-year-old and a 500-year-old painting by studying the painting’s materials. Other occasions of miscommunication concerned problems that a curator believed to be physical faults, but which were actually caused by reflections due to imperfect lighting. Conservators’ concerns with materiality make us particularly sensitive to how uneven lighting, reflections, and shadows of frames can have a more profound effect on a viewer’s experience than many curators or lighting designers appreciate.
  • Our final question is an awkward one: Do conservators sometimes dodge tough questions about the ageing of materials? Unfortunately, in some recent cases we think that the answer to this is “yes.” 

avatar for Lance Mayer

Lance Mayer

Conservator, Private Practice
Lance Mayer and Gay Myers have recently retired from careers as independent paintings conservators for many large and small museums and private collectors. They have treated such paintings as Rembrandt Peale’s The Court of Death at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Raising of Lazarus... Read More →
avatar for Gay Myers

Gay Myers

Conservator, Lyman Allyn Art Museum
Lance Mayer and Gay Myers have recently retired from careers as independent paintings conservators for many large and small museums and private collectors. They have treated such paintings as Rembrandt Peale’s The Court of Death at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Raising of Lazarus... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Hunters Creek Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Imaging Technology) Optimizing Imaging Modalities to Improve Understanding Materials
Imaging has been through the fashion cycle with a move away from the importance of materials analysis through microscopy, back to the current realization of how different imaging modalities complement each other. Spectral imaging utilizing controlled and modified modes of illumination provides a synergistic approach to materials analysis, while also mapping the spectral response of all materials across a document or object to augment the workflow for analysis by knowing what other regions on heritage materials require additional analytical techniques for characterization. The spectral imaging system at the Library of Congress was carefully customized to incorporate a number of imaging components that allow for multiple types of materials information within a single capture sequence. The base imaging sequence begins with reflected illumination throughout the visible and invisible range single LED illumination wavebands with a monochrome camera that assists with the full range of data in a high resolution 16-bit TIFF file. This is followed by raking (or side lighting at specified angle) illumination in both the blue and infrared (IR) regions of the spectrum to capture the topography of the object, and provides extremely useful information about production techniques, tool marks etc. and indentations remaining if ink or pigments have been eroded. The IR often shows the base substrate material without covering by inks and colorants. Raking at 90-degree angles or more essentially provides the information often associated with RTI. All image sequences are fully registered, greatly improving the productivity and workflow for processing of the image stack, as no re-registration is required since there is no filter used for the base sequence. Understanding materials refers not only to their characterization, but also to tracking change over time due to the impact of treatments, natural aging or specific environmental parameters. A standardized process for assessing any variation from the baseline has been invaluable for assisting the assessment of conservation treatments as well as change due to exposure to light or other factors, without the need for additional micro-fading. Additionally, z-plane imaging (focusing at multiple levels) adds a three-dimensional component and is enhanced within the workflow process by the inclusion of a laser for controlled layering. A fluorescent wheel incorporates multiple broadband filters to capture and enhance the fluorescent response for greater ease of characterization between similar colorants to assist pigment identification. Extending our understanding of materials is assisted with the addition of transmitted illumination, through a selected spectral range. The incorporation of transmitted imaging into the base sequence allows a combination of reflected and transmitted captures to be used in spectral processing and provides invaluable information about the impact of treatments on materials, disturbances with the base substrate, and imaging through treatments such as lamination. Overall, a structured standardized approach to integrated spectral imaging provides a thoughtful and nuanced approach to a better understanding of materials, while allowing for the potential of additional information to be captured from a diverse modality imaging methodology.

avatar for Fenella France

Fenella France

Library of Congress

avatar for Chris Bolser

Chris Bolser

Preservation Technician (Imaging), Library of Congress
Chris Bolser is a Preservation Technician specializing in Imaging with a degree in Forensic Science from West Virginia University.
avatar for Meghan A. Wilson

Meghan A. Wilson

Preservation Specialist, Library of Congress
Meghan Wilson is an imaging specialist in the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress. She has worked extensively with multispectral imaging technology, developing guidelines and workflows for technical operation of equipment and image quality control... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) Martin Ramirez’s Creative Compulsions: The Composition, Construction and Conservation of His Monumental Collaged Drawings
Like many “outsider” artists who were not championed by the art establishment until late in their careers or well after their deaths, Martin Ramirez was until recently a somewhat mysterious figure. The details of his biography were scant and the 42 years that passed between his death and their coalescence in a 2015 biography by Victor Espinoza bred apocryphal tales of his artistic process. Ramirez immigrated to the United States from Mexico, worked for a time, and then found himself homeless on the streets of Los Angeles only to be incarcerated into the state’s mental hospitals for the last decades of his life. His isolation and diagnosis as a catatonic schizophrenic fueled rumors that without access to art supplies, he was compelled to squeeze grapefruit to make ink from their juice and to macerate bread, mashed potatoes, and cereal to make adhesives. While it is true that Ramirez’s circumstances necessitated ingenuity, such descriptions of his desperation detract from the technical skill, sophisticated visual lexicon, and thoughtful revisions that he employed in the production of some 400 extant drawings (as well as many more destroyed by hospital staff) over a period of three decades. Fashioned from papers that Ramirez removed from waste paper baskets and magazines, from the cafeteria’s paper placements and napkins, and from paper bags of all sorts, the artist’s collaged supports are works of art in their own right that possess a tactile three-dimensional quality. His imagery includes trains running into tunnels, men on horseback, towering madonnas, and Spanish colonial-style architecture. In anticipation of the inaugural exhibition of the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (ICA LA), a large number of Ramirez’s works housed in Chicago collections were examined and conserved. Among them, a monumental 18-foot-long drawing that Ramirez constructed from hundreds of scraps of paper would become central to the exhibition after a major conservation intervention. To better understand Ramirez’s materials, technical study and scientific analysis were undertaken to characterize the adhesives and various components of the drawing media and colorants. Research into arts education in public schools and institutions like the ones in which Ramirez lived was also undertaken to determine what products were available to students and patients alike in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Combined with observations made during the conservation treatment of the large drawing noted above, as well as 14 others, a better and more precise understanding of Ramirez’s materials, his methods of constructing his supports, and the types of damage to which they are susceptible over time, will be presented.

avatar for Harriet K. Stratis-[PA]

Harriet K. Stratis-[PA]

Stratis Fine Art Conservation LLC, Art Institute of Chicago (Retired)
Harriet Stratis is a paper conservator and technical art historian. In 2017, after 30 years as a museum professional, she established a private practice and is focussed on consulting for museums and private collectors to carry out technical research and/or conservation treatments... Read More →

avatar for Mary Broadway

Mary Broadway

Associate Paper Conservator, Art Institute of Chicago
Mary Broadway is the Associate paper conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago Additional Co-authors include: Mary Broadway, Veronica Biolcati, Ken Sutherland, Francesca Casadio, Emeline Pouyet, Agnese Babini, Gianluca Pastorelli, Danielle Duggins, Marc Walton

Ken Sutherland

Conservation Scientist, Art Institute of Chicago
Ken Sutherland is a scientist in the Department of Conservation and Science at the Art Institute of Chicago. He held previous positions as scientist in the Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Research Fellow in the Scientific Research Department of the National... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Ongoing Investigations into the Use of Metal-Complex Solvent Dyes for Recoloring Faded Hair and Fur
In an ongoing multi-year research project, the American Museum of Natural History, in partnership with Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) and the Peabody Museum of Natural History, is investigating metal-complex solvent dyes as a reversible means for recoloring faded taxidermy. The project has unfolded in three phases. In the first (published in the Pre-Prints of the 2017 ICOM-CC Triennial Conference), accelerated light aging was used to establish the lightfastness of 25 BASF Orasol dyes, as well as selected commercially available equivalent colorants. This testing assessed the performance of dye deposits applied to quartz plate with a solvent carrier but no binding media, an application that is more germane to our recoloring protocol than the manufacturer’s testing of Orasol dyes in polymer resins. This talk will present results of two further complementary phases of the research project, which are intended to evaluate these materials in applications that better simulate object treatment. A key question is whether the lightfastness of the Orasol dyes is impacted by their application to fur substrates, which differ from quartz in their photochemical activity and optical properties. The results of our previous work (described above) enabled us to reduce the number of dyes tested by excluding unacceptably fugitive materials. For this evaluation we applied the selected dyes to fur, exposed the dyed fur samples to accelerated light aging, monitored color change in the samples, and assigned Blue Wool rankings. A second key question is whether the presence of Orasol dye on a fur substrate can be expected to alter the rate of light-induced chemical degradation that fur will undergo in future display. Again, working with a reduced palette of relatively stable colors, fur samples were dyed and subjected to accelerated light aging. Using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to probe chemical changes in the fibers, we compared the chemical degradation of the fur in the dyed samples with undyed fur aged in the same conditions. This discussion will benefit conservators charged with the care of taxidermy on exhibit, as well as colleagues in allied fields, in contributing to a more complete understanding of the long-term impact and longevity of treatments using Orasol dyes applied to hair and fur.

avatar for Julia	Sybalsky

Julia Sybalsky

Senior Associate Conservator, American Museum of Natural History
Julia Sybalsky is an Associate Conservator at the AMNH, where she began working in January of 2010. She was an important contributor in the recently-completed renovation of dioramas in the Hall of North American Mammals and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. Julia's work supports... Read More →

avatar for Judith Levinson-[PA]

Judith Levinson-[PA]

Director of Conservation, American Museum of Natural History
Judith Levinson is Director of Conservation in the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History. Working with the museum’s archaeological and ethnographic collections, she also has extensive experience with the museum’s dioramas and other permanent and temporary... Read More →
avatar for Fran E. Ritchie

Fran E. Ritchie

Conservator, Harpers Ferry Center
Fran Ritchie is the Conservator of ethnographic materials, natural science, and decorative arts objects at the National Park Service (NPS) Harpers Ferry Center. Prior to working for the NPS, she was an assistant conservator in the Anthropology Objects Conservation Lab at the American... Read More →
avatar for Paul Whitmore-[Fellow]

Paul Whitmore-[Fellow]

Director, Aging Diagnostics Laboratory, Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Paul Whitmore was trained as a chemist, earning a B.S. in chemistry from Caltech and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked in cultural heritage science for his entire professional career, starting at the Environmental Quality Laboratory... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) The painting’s life, silk or paper: materials and methods for lining a 15th-century Chinese handscroll at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Asian scroll paintings are executed on delicate and fragile materials such as silk. Many of the aging scrolls already show different degrees of natural deterioration. For treating these scrolls, remounting and replacing the first lining is a crucial step to stabilizing the damages. The first lining is also called Life paper, indicating that it is crucial to the life of a painting. Paintings on silk with the extensive loss to the silk support have been found lined overall with a sheet of silk to compensate/back-fill the losses. This is considered a “lazy” way to disguise losses as opposed to the method of infilling the losses individually with silk trimmed to the same shapes as the losses. Silk bonds much better to paper than it does to another layer of silk; therefore, lining a painting on silk with a whole sheet of silk requires thicker and stronger paste to bind two sheets of silk well. If two sheets of silk are not well adhered they will delaminate more readily with rolling and unrolling; these delaminations can eventually lead to losses to the painting silk. Is it true that lining with silk is a “lazy” way? Are there other reasons why an overall silk lining may be preferable in terms of the scroll’s context or the condition? Some Japanese Buddhist paintings are lined with a whole sheet of silk simply because silk is expensive and considered more luxurious and thus, is the best material to show proper reverence to the deity or deities represented in the painting. At the CMA, a silk painting in a handscroll format had been treated in the past with an overall silk lining. This handscroll was recently remounted due to the delamination between the primary and lining silks. When the lining silk of this handscroll was taken off, extensive tiny losses and spider web-like creases were revealed with transmitted light. Here lies the crux of this discussion: if the losses are compensated using an overall silk lining, it might cause the same problem of delamination. If lined with sheets of paper, the losses then have to be infilled with trimmed silk, and with extensive losses, this is extremely time-consuming. Most of the losses are the size of pencil dots, so infilling with the same size of trimmed silk is impractical: there is not enough material (surface area) to paste down and the infills would just fall off due to poor adhesion. Furthermore, trimming the infill silk to the exact shapes of the losses and then reinforcing the inlaid perimeter would result in too many overlapping reinforcement strips. Finally, a painting will shrink or expand differently than the fills while drying, resulting in gaps around losses; with numerous tiny infills, all of the resulting gaps present a concern. In this presentation, the advantages and disadvantage of lining with silk or with paper for Asian silk paintings are compared and discussed. The filling and lining materials and methods for a 15th-century handscroll at the CMA are introduced.

avatar for Yi-Hsia Hsiao

Yi-Hsia Hsiao

Conservator, Cleveland Museum of Art
Yi-Hsia is an associate conservator working on Chinese paintings, and Thangka paintings in the Asian painting conservation studio, Conservation Department, in the Cleveland Museum of Art since 2014. Before settled down in Cleveland, she was an Andrew W. Mellon fellow for Chinese paintings... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston


Facilitated Discussion
avatar for Jessica Walthew

Jessica Walthew

Conservator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Jessica Walthew is an objects conservator at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She holds an MA in Art History and Archaeology with advanced certificate in Conservation from NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center. Her research and teaching interests include history... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm


(Material Transfers & Translations) Flaming Pearls and Flying Phoenixes: Materiality, Research, and Stewardship of Liao Dynasty Metalwork
Metalwork from the Liao Dynasty (907-1125 CE) displays material and technical mastery that draws on the metalware and gilding traditions from the Tang and Song dynasties in China. When the nomadic Khitan people created the Liao polity, their military dominance, worldview, and cultural tastes culminated in a rich physical heritage. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston has three opulent Khitan funerary objects in its collection: a Mongolian-style gilded bronze saddle (with original wooden substrate), a pair of gilded silver boots, and a gilded silver crown. The choice of precious materials, employment of specialized knowledge, and incorporation of kingship iconography highlights the importance and power of these objects within the culture of the Liao Dynasty. The discovery of these highly decorative and luxurious objects in noble tombs suggests they served a ritual function within the burial customs of elites. The manufacture of utilitarian forms (e.g. saddle and boots) in prized materials unsuitable for functioning objects highlights the importance of the nomadic identity even in death. Decorative programs incorporating flaming-pearls, phoenixes, dragons, ruyi clouds, scrolls, and vegetal motifs employ a Buddhist visual vocabulary common in the Liao Dynasty. Through their funerary objects, the individual identities can be contextualized and encapsulated through the manipulation of physical materials. This materials-based interpretation is grounded in scientific analysis (e.g. energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence, electron microprobe, Fourier-transformation infrared spectroscopy, and wood identification) and imaging (e.g. x-ray radiography and reflectance transformation imaging) in conjunction with research of other Liao Dynasty comparanda.

Transcendency of materials in the pursuit of form can embed meaning and cultural significance in ways not readily apparent. The sheet metal used to make the gilded silver boots were cut to form in a manner similar to the textile footwear counterpart while the unusual choice of metal substrate (i.e. pure copper) for the saddle complicates the traditional interpretation of this equine apparatus. Increased awareness of the Liao Dynasty metalwork tradition and new archaeological finds are slowly changing the narrative of the Khitan people from “barbaric” nomadic outsiders to cultural-empowered elites. The MFA initially acquired and understood the gilded silver crown as a Korean flat plaque; however, this interpretation was soon abandoned with subsequent archaeological excavations and the discovery of similar forms in the shape of a crown. In the early 1960s, museum restorers decided to reshape the plaque, using the annealing process, to its current crown form. This significant intervention and other smaller treatments (i.e. reducing tarnish, passivating active corrosion, and stabilizing structural breaks) illustrates the degree museum restorers and later conservators re-contextualized and cared for these Khitan funerary objects. Treatment decisions are scrutinized against their historical frameworks as new technologies (i.e. three-dimensional imaging and printing) offer exciting avenues of research and options for display and accessibility. As the museum strives to understand these enigmatic objects, the Liao Dynasty funerary metalware continues to offer a glimpse into the material mastery of the Khitan people and the world in which they lived.

avatar for Evelyn Mayberger

Evelyn Mayberger

Assistant Conservator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Eve holds a B.A. in Art History with a concentration in Asian Art from Wesleyan University. She graduated with a M.A. and M.S. degrees in art history and conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where she specialized in objects conservation. Eve has worked in... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston


(Imaging Technology) A New Workflow for Color and Tone Calibrated Multispectral Imaging
Multispectral imaging has become a critical analytical tool in the examination and documentation of cultural heritage. But despite the popularity of this technique there are numerous impediments to standardization and repeatability. Within a single institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we found that approaches to capture, processing, archiving methods and even terminology varied significantly between the various conservation labs. This talk will introduce the ways in which the Met has begun to address these issues, and will focus specifically on our efforts to standardize a reliably repeatable in-house image capture workflow that can be adopted both internally, and across institutions. Our work is indebted to the CHARISMA project (Cultural Heritage Advanced Research Infrastructures: Synergy for a Multidisciplinary Approach to Conservation/Restoration) spearheaded by the British Museum. CHARISMA made great strides in presenting a capture methodology and an open source solution for standardization of post processing; however, our efforts at unifying our results through CHARISMA met with limited success. Rather than relying on post-processing to standardize results, our methodology uses scene referred capture, which uses targets to correct for color, tone, and white balance during the capture process to achieve a successful image regardless of the camera, lens, and light source used for capture. We started by creating a protocol to capture visible light images, the backbone of which leverages the new ISO19264 artwork reproduction standards. Images are captured using an X-rite Color Checker Digital SG Card and a Munsell Linear Grayscale, and we chose to use Adobe Lightroom to evaluate captured images, as it is one of the few applications that gives a read-out for L* values. Through the evaluation of the targets, we are able to obtain a color profile that falls within the acceptable range of color fluctuation as defined by ISO and tone curve for any camera and lighting set-up that can be applied to all subsequent images. The same color profile and tone curve obtained through this process can then be applied to the multispectral imaging suite, including Ultraviolet-induced Visible Luminescence imaging, Visible-induced Infrared Luminescence imaging, Ultraviolet-reflected imaging and Infrared-reflected imaging. Through using this workflow, we have found that one is able to achieve repeatable, high quality images and produce similar results across multiples set ups. This paper will share the step-by-step details of this workflow and case studies for which this workflow has been applied in Objects Conservation, Paper Conservation and other labs at the Met. Additionally, ongoing research on light sources and other aspects of multispectral imaging practice will be presented.

avatar for Marina Ruiz Molina

Marina Ruiz Molina

Associate Conservator, Paper Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Marina Ruiz Molina is an Associate Conservator in the Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper Conservation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She trained as a paper conservator at the Escuela Superior de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales de Madrid, Spain, and joined... Read More →
avatar for Anna Serotta

Anna Serotta

Associate Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Department of Objects Conservation
Anna Serotta is an Associate Conservator in Objects Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is primarily responsible for the Egyptian Art collection. She received her Master’s Degree in Art History and an Advanced Certificate in Art Conservation at the Institute... Read More →

avatar for Scott Geffert

Scott Geffert

General Manager for Advanced Imaging, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Scott Geffert currently heads up the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Advanced imaging team within the Imaging department. Advanced imaging at the Met supports conservation through 3D imaging, color management, and the development and implementation of ISO imaging standards. His interests... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) Connecting the dots: visitor interaction in contemporary art collections
Contemporary artworks are often comprised of unconventional materials, concepts, and formats. Together with the fact that the requisite display often precludes the use of platforms or vitrines, the ability to differentiate between the boundaries of what comprises the artwork and the degree of interactivity can become challenging to the museum’s visitors. In 2017, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden hosted the exhibition ‘Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors’, putting on display an oeuvre characterized by a mix of brightly colored wall paintings, soft sculptures on platforms, inflatable artworks suspended from the ceiling or sitting directly on the floor, and immersive mirror rooms for visitors to enter. This exhibition exemplified the inconsistencies of allowable interaction, and also posed a unique opportunity of studying the artworks in a range of settings across the venues. This show, therefore, became the focal point of an expansive and ongoing exploration into visitor interaction in contemporary art collections. The methodology of this research has been highly collaborative in nature. Over the course of the exhibition, human behavior in the galleries was observed and discussed on many levels throughout the institution and included a wide range of departments. Collection Management, Conservation, Visitor Services, Security, Communications, and Exhibits all came to the table with a range of perspectives and experiences that guided the overall approach and development of systems during the exhibition. Much was learned through these discussions with the added benefits of closer interdepartmental relationships and a broader view across the Museum of the issues regarding visitor interaction and the intersection of staff roles. The strategies that were adopted during these discussions have also been applied to future exhibitions that pose similar challenges. Taking advantage of the full run of the exhibition, HMSG fellow Anouk Verbeek is following the exhibition 'Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors' as it travels to five other venues in North America. This continuation of her initial research includes monitoring the considerations of gallery layout, visitor flow, signage, staff involvement, and free versus paid admission. Observing the same artworks in a different setting and environment and with different demographics of visitorship will give insight into both overlapping and differing issues regarding visitor interaction. By communicating with colleagues at all venues, as well as other museums worldwide, and learning from each other’s mistakes and successes, we will hopefully get closer to creating a clear image of the issues–and possible solutions–posed by visitor interaction in contemporary art collections.

avatar for Anouk Verbeek

Anouk Verbeek

Postgraduate fellow in contemporary art conservation, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Anouk Verbeek is a contemporary art conservator, currently working as a fellow at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Over the years, she has carried out treatments on a broad range of objects, the focal point being plastics. She has conducted research into... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Transfers & Translations) Collecting Collections: negotiating the complexities of material value at the National Park Service
In the 101 years since its inception, The National Park Service (NPS) has been overseen by eighteen United States Presidents and twenty-seven Secretaries of the Interior, while amassing a collection of over 50 million accessioned objects. 36 million of those objects reside in the NPS’s Northeast Region. Examples include a Buddhist altar table owned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a 19th-century Japanese screen collected by Laurance Rockefeller, a glass and plastic inkwell used by Maggie Walker, and numerous outdoor monuments. The care and upkeep of these pieces is in part the responsibility of just seven regional objects and paper conservators. With such thinly stretched resources (when evenly divided, each conservator is responsible for a stunning 5.1 million objects), it is important to have a clear understanding of the cultural value of the materials we care for, and to whom (or to what) we, as conservators, are ultimately held accountable, as we collaborate with one another, with Park stakeholders, and with contracted conservators. In many ways, the decision-making process used to determine a treatment is no different for an NPS Conservator than it is for a museum or private-practice conservator: we, too, are responsible to colleagues as well as administrative supervision (with the caveat that our administration changes entirely every four to eight years) and our decisions, in keeping with section II of the AIC Code of Ethics, are governed by “an informed respect for cultural property, its unique character and significance, and the people or person who created it.” That said, one of the most challenging complexities of the National Park Service is that, unlike most museums or private individuals who collect discrete objects, the NPS collects collections - currently over 2,500 of them. In essence, these collections are the objects. In telling the story of the creators of these “objects,” we become primarily responsible to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, rather than to the worshipper or monks who commissioned the elegant altar table, which was altered  by the Longfellows to serve as a sideboard in their dining room, and to Laurance Rockefeller, rather than to the 19th-century Japanese artist who surely intended his spectacular flying cranes screen to be shown with all six of its panels, rather than used with only five, and to Maggie Walker, whose civil rights activism is memorialized in her home as it was at the time of her death in 1934. It is imperative, of course, to study and understand the materials of individual objects before proposing or beginning treatment. And treating the object with care and respect is always essential. The unusual circumstances of the National Park Service, however, necessitate a third step: contextualizing and assigning value to the narrative of the collector or collection so that we may support that vision and share it with future generations. This paper will discuss the complexities of this decision-making process and how we, as conservators, are responsible for not only the objects themselves, but also for their historic (versus historical) interpretation.

avatar for Joannie Bottkol

Joannie Bottkol

Conservator, NPS Historic Architecture, Conservation and Engineering Center
Joannie Bottkol, is an objects conservator for the National Park Service’s Northeast Region, which consists of over 80 National Sites and Parks spanning from Maine to Virginia. The collections include decorative and fine art, outdoor monuments, historic house interiors and furnishings... Read More →
avatar for Angela Campbell

Angela Campbell

Conservator, NPS Historic Architecture, Conservation and Engineering Center
Angela Campbell is the Paper Conservator at the Historic Architecture, Conservation and Engineering Center (HACE) of the National Park Service. Angela was previously an Assistant Conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she spent seven years working in the Sherman Fairchild... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Touring Nature’s Treasures:The Conservation Challenges of Touring and Displaying Natural History Specimens
Since the Natural History Museum, in London, opened to the public in 1881 it has established itself at the forefront of natural history research and public engagement. This has involved a long history of in-house exhibition as well as international loan and touring exhibitions. The ambition and scale of these touring exhibitions has recently been raised substantially with the emphasis on display of original material. This presentation will focus on the first, and most complex, of these “specimen rich” touring exhibitions and the associated conservation challenges. Treasures of the Natural World is a collaborative exhibition containing specimens selected from the 80 million collection items housed within several scientific departments at the museum.This included herbaria sheets, taxidermy, palaeontology, insects, gems and meteorites plus works of art on paper. Over three-hundred collection items required conservation evaluation and in some cases remedial treatment. The size of some specimens ranging from a complete Giant Ground Sloth skeleton to a small selection of iridescent orchid bees, raised logistical challenges and risks for their transport and display. In addition, the touring of Natural History specimens creates interesting challenges for care and conservation with the need to balance the differing display requirements of different materials. An understanding of material properties and deterioration was essential for the safe treatment, transportation and display of these specimens. The environmental and lighting requirements for all specimens had to be assessed and managed while enabling the grouping of specimens within their individual stories. In addition, careful conservation of specimens needed to be undertaken to ensure their stability for transportation between multiple venues over up to a five year period. Alongside these challenges, touring natural history specimens also raise unique concerns in relation to the transportation of fluid preserved specimens, specimens controlled by CITES regulations and inherently hazardous materials. An understanding of the health and safety issues surrounding natural history specimens was also integral to the safety of team members. This presentation will discuss the Conservation team’s response to these challenges and how our understanding of the varied nature of the materials impacted on these responses and outcomes.


Gillian Comerford

Senior Conservator, The Natural History Museum
Gill leads the Preventive Conservation team for the Natural History Museum, London. Her particular interests are in developing strategies to reduce rates of decay in Natural History collections. She manages a team of Conservators that have a wide ranging skill sets from Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Nicola Harrison

Nicola Harrison

Conservator, The Natural History Museum
Nikki works as a Conservator at the Natural History Museum focusing on the care and conservation of the museum's collections. Nikki completed her conservation training at University College London, leaving with an MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums in 2013. Before the... Read More →

avatar for Lorraine Cornish

Lorraine Cornish

Head of Conservation, Natural History Museum
Lorraine is Head of Conservation at the Natural History Museum managing a team of 22 working across five conservation facilities which care for the museum's 80 million collection items. She led a team which recently won the prestigious 2016 Keck award for Conservation by the International... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) Investigation of Cellulose Nitrate Motion Picture Film Chemical Decomposition & Associated Fire Risk
Is deteriorated cellulose nitrate film relatively inert, "comparable to the flammability of paper," as ISO standards state, or is it shock sensitive, presumably more like an explosive, as the Kodak MSDS for cellulose nitrate film tells us? Disparities about cellulose nitrate film abound in the literature which then pose challenges for the conservator and collections care professional in making choices for these materials. Strict government regulations about storage, handling and transportation -- based on conflicting information in the literature -- compound the problem. The purpose of the Wisconsin Nitrate Film Project was to understand the chemical processes by which cellulose nitrate decomposes and to ascertain whether deteriorated nitrate film stock is more dangerous than nitrate stock in good condition. The project sought to establish the validity of the five-stage classification model for cellulose nitrate degradation, to understand the friction sensitivity of cellulose nitrate "brown powder," to closely investigate the role that relative humidity plays in degradation pathways and to engage with the regulatory community which establishes handling and storage requirements for cellulose nitrate. This presentation describes the results of three avenues of research undertaken during this NEH funded project: Chemical and physical testing on samples of heritage nitrate film (still and motion picture); evidence gathered through oral histories, a survey of archives, and the creation of an extensive annotated bibliography of cellulose nitrate related literature; and it describes our interactions with the National Fire Protection Association. Future research and advocacy needs are defined.

avatar for Kathleen Mullen

Kathleen Mullen

Preservation Coordinator, Wisconsin Historical Society
Kathleen Mullen is the Preservation Coordinator for the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Library, Archives and Museum Collections, a position she has held since 2010. She oversees book, paper and objects conservation in that position, as well as audio-visual preservation... Read More →

avatar for Dr. Heather Heckman

Dr. Heather Heckman

Director, Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina
Heather has a PhD in Communication Arts at UW, where she also earned MAs in Library and Information Studies and Communication Arts. Her publications include "Burn After Viewing, or, Fire in the Vaults: Nitrate Decomposition and Combustibility" (The American Archivist, Winter 2010... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Mahesh Mahanthappa

Dr. Mahesh Mahanthappa

Professor, Chemical Engineering and Material Science, University of Minnesota
A native of Boulder, Colorado, Mahesh K. Mahanthappa received his B.A. in Chemistry and Mathematics at the University of Colorado in 1997, while performing undergraduate research with Professor Gordon T. Yee. As a Hertz Fellow at Stanford University, Mahesh studied the mechanisms... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston


(Long-Form Concurrent Session) Lessons from Irma and Harvey: Preparation and Response in the 2017 Hurricane Season
The Fall of 2017 was one of the most active and dangerous seasons in U.S. Hurricane history. As of this writing, two of the nation's largest cities and most populous states have been affected by storms of record-breaking size and wind strength. This panel brings together conservators from Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida to discuss some of the solutions adopted by institutions, collections, and private conservation studios to prepare for hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We will discuss what worked and what did not, what lessons were learned, and how conservators can respond to incorrect advice that is provided by non-conservators and disseminated widely in media reports. As of this date the panel will consist of: Rosa Lowinger (Moderator) Principal and Chief Conservator, RLA Conservation, Inc. Miami and Los Angeles. Steve Pine (Presenter) Senior Conservator for Decorative Arts, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Rustin Levenson (Presenter) President and Chief Conservator, ArtCare, Inc. Miami, New York, Los Angeles Lauren Hall (Presenter) Conservator, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens One more participant from Houston or another Gulf Coast locale

avatar for Kelly Ciociola-[PA]

Kelly Ciociola-[PA]

Senior Conservator, RLA Conservation
Kelly Ciociola holds a 2010 Masters in Historic Preservation with a concentration in materials conservation from the joint program of Clemson University and College of Charleston . A Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, she presently serves as Senior... Read More →

avatar for Lauren R. Hall-[PA]

Lauren R. Hall-[PA]

Conservator, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Lauren Reynolds Hall is the conservator at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida, where she oversees the preservation of a diverse collection of historic structures, decorative art objects, and outdoor sculpture. She holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the... Read More →
avatar for Rustin Levenson-[Fellow]

Rustin Levenson-[Fellow]

President and Founder, ArtCare Conservation, A Rustin Levenson Company
B.A. Wellesley College; Diploma in Paintings Conservation, Fogg Art Museum, and Harvard University. Conservation staff of the Fogg Museum (1969-1973), the Canadian Conservation Institute (1973-1974); The National Gallery of Canada (1974-1977); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1977-1980... Read More →

avatar for Steven Pine-[PA]

Steven Pine-[PA]

Senior Decorative Arts Conservator, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Steven Pine is Senior Decorative Arts Conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He is a former co-chair of the AIC Emergency Committee and is active in Alliance for Response networks in Texas and New York. He has assisted in recovery assessments and clean up of public and private... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Hunters Creek Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Imaging Technology) Integrating Multispectral Imaging, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), and Photogrammetry for Archaeological Objects
This project utilizes a 3D-model built with photogrammetry as scaffolding for the combined display and analysis of other types of imaging data, such as Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), and broadband Multispectral Imaging (MSI). Photogrammetry, RTI, and broadband MSI are well-established imaging techniques widely used by cultural heritage professionals. These techniques have seen rapid adoption by archaeologists and conservators working together in the field. While recognizing that no technique produces a perfect or undistorted representation, the data that this project integrates complement each other very effectively and result in high-resolution and visually expressive renderings that emphasize physical shape, surface variability, and spectral properties. Combining techniques facilitates very detailed study and visualization of an artifact that both highlights otherwise invisible features. Furthermore, it can effectively communicate these aspects without requiring direct inspection or handling of the object. Three-dimensional models were built of a stone object from Sardis, Turkey and an Egyptian painted wood fragment using Agisoft Photoscan Pro. RTIs were created of the worked surfaces of each using the RTIBuilder 2.0.2 available from Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI). MSI images were processed with the add-in for nip2, the graphical interface of the free processing system VIPS, developed as part of the CHARISMA project, available from the British Museum. So-called “connection images” were used to integrate and align the data sets. These evenly lit images, taken with the same camera position and parameters as the auxiliary data sets, are included in the set of images used to build the 3D model with photogrammetry. The data sets were combined and visualized using Blender, an open-source 3D graphics and animation software. We stress that this project uses software, equipment, and methods that are readily accessible to conservators and archaeologists in museum photo studios and in the field. We have also established a workflow for combining potentially any source of imagery. This technique shows promise for many applications where advanced visualization can contribute to analysis and conservation treatment, particularly in situations where ongoing contact with the object is limited or ill advised. In summary, the successful combination of RTI, MSI, and photogrammetry data sets results in 3D models that support compelling interactive visualization and analysis of archaeological materials.

avatar for Emily Frank

Emily Frank

PhD Candidate | Objects Conservator, Institute for Study of the Ancient World at NYU
Emily Frank is an objects conservator; a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Study of the Ancient World at NYU; and a recent graduate of the joint MS in Conservation of Artistic & Historic Works and MA in History of Art & Archaeology at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine... Read More →

avatar for Dr. Sebastian Heath

Dr. Sebastian Heath

Clinical Assistant Professor of Ancient Studies, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
Sebastian Heath is a specialist in Roman pottery, the Roman economy, and the application of digital technologies to the study of the ancient Mediterranean. He has participated in excavations and surveys in Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom... Read More →
avatar for Chantal Stein

Chantal Stein

Graduate Student – Institute of Fine Arts Fellow in Conservation, New York University
Chantal Stein is pursuing a joint Masters of Art in Art History and Masters of Science in Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She is currently completing her fourth-year internship at the Brooklyn... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) An Enlightened Perspective: Balancing Artist Intent with Conservation Concerns
Rei Kawakubo, the avant-garde fashion designer and founder of the fashion label Comme des Garçons, is known for her provocative ability to push past boundaries. Unsurprisingly, the monographic exhibition organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in cooperation with Kawakubo, "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between," was in many ways the antithesis of a typical museum exhibition. Standard exhibition practices, such as displaying objects on platforms and maintaining safe touch distances, were abandoned in allegiance to Kawakubo’s larger creative vision that espoused democracy and public access. The most challenging conservation aspect was the lighting design: a diagonal grid of over 300 72” long T12 Fluorescent lamps that had the potential to illuminate fashion objects to a projected 123 foot candles. As with all exhibitions involving living artists, the Costume Institute conservators engaged in constructive dialogue with the designer in order to reach a solution that balanced Kawakubo’s wishes with conservation concerns about high light levels. Paramount to the conservators’ approach was using conservation ethics as the guiding framework structuring decision-making and compromise efforts. Significantly, the exhibition was the first and only authoritative exhibition sanctioned by the designer herself and the majority of the objects were from the designer’s archive, two factors that led the conservators to accept the lighting design in theory, although with modification to ensure conservation requirements for museum objects. The use of UV-filters and an iron-clad damage waiver provided additional conservation and legal protections. In recognition that the ultimate lighting design still fell far short of normal conservation standards, the CI conservation team seized the opportunity to collect valuable data that could inform future exhibition design. To achieve this objective, the CI conservation team took a wide-ranging approach that included the following measures: testing CI objects selected for exhibition using a microfader to identify each object’s potential for light damage; testing actual light levels against projected light levels to assess the precision of the light modeling software Autodesk Revit; tracking lamp lumen depreciation (light intensity) over the course of the exhibition to more closely calculate cumulative light exposure; and placing blue wool standard cards throughout the exhibition as a means to evaluate possible cumulative light damage through pre- and post-exhibition colorimetry measurements. Through this aggregation of data the CI conservation team endeavored to gain the broadest understanding of the many variables that converge when lighting an object over the course of an exhibition, especially when artistic intent must take precedence over standard conservation requirements.

avatar for Christopher Mazza

Christopher Mazza

Conservation Assistant, The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Christopher Mazza, Conservation Assistant, provides support for the department's in-house exhibitions and preservation of the costume collection. He holds an MA in fashion and textile studies: history, theory, and museum practice from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MFA... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Scaturro

Sarah Scaturro

Head Conservator, The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sarah Scaturro is the Head Conservator of the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is in charge of the conservation laboratory and the preservation of the fashion collection. She was previously the textile conservator and assistant curator of fashion at the Cooper-Hewitt... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Smudges, snakeskins, and pins, oh my!
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA), and Smithsonian Institution Libraries have collaborated since 2010 on the Field Book Project, involving cataloging, preservation survey and assessment, conservation treatment, digitization and creation of an innovative crowd-sourced Transcription Center in order to make widely available our vulnerable, unique, scientific manuscript and other archival documentation held in a variety of contexts within our collections and research departments. The physical nature of field books at the Smithsonian varies widely in their size, media, format, and orientation over almost two centuries of scientific record keeping, making for a fascinating overview of structures (commercial and ad-hoc), styles, and secret surprises found in these sometimes intimate journals. Catalogers, collection managers, and volunteers from all over the world have reacted to and realized that these records, besides supporting original location evidence of a natural specimen collected, often hold much more unique contextual content. These include visual observations of color and behavior, hand-drawn maps, and notes on environmental conditions that may fill out missing data in the environmental record. Beyond their original purpose, the authors’ entries also reflect humanity via the occasional tasty recipe, remarks upon life in the field, and also bear witness to societal and political changes, the stresses of which sometimes become remarkably poignant through observable changes in handwriting and care taken in writing personal correspondence. This presentation will review guidelines and best practices that SIA has preferred for stabilizing, preparing, and conserving our original field books prior to and after digitization. Key to the core concept of connecting collections, special care is taken to identify and preserve in-situ inclusions (such as the eponymous moulted snakeskin) and other physical evidence that can be further linked to accessioned specimens. While low-tech minimal preservation actions can allow the collections manager to preserve these with a minimum of fuss, at times, the materiality of a field book can interfere with access, or cause great risk to the content, such that disbinding may be considered. Reversing vigorous prior interventions has been an especial challenge, where we advocate for the productive application of the sewn-boards binding as a useful tool in the archive and library conservator’s kit as an excellent option for conservation rebinding (see also Poster Sessions - Application of the Sewn Boards Binding for Field Books and Pocket Journals).

avatar for R William Bennett III

R William Bennett III

Conservator, Smithsonian Institution Archives
William Bennett is the Conservation Specialist for the Smithsonian Institution Archives. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the West Dean College graduate program in Book Conservation, and previously worked in Collections Care at the Library of Congress. He is an AIC... Read More →
avatar for Nora Lockshin-[PA]

Nora Lockshin-[PA]

Head, Preservation and Collections Care, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Nora Lockshin is Senior Paper Conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ Conservation Lab. She provides treatment, guidance, research, training and advocacy for caregivers of collections, including the Smithsonian Archives, its allied archival units and special collections... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) The Element of Surprise: contending with historic lead fills on an outdoor bronze Mercury
Lead has been used for centuries as a filling agent for a wide variety of materials ranging from metals, to ceramics, and even teeth. It’s flexibility, low melting point, and ability to form alloys with a variety of common metals made it an ideal conservation material before the health hazards of lead were well known. As a result, lead fills can be found in a large number of museum artifacts. Despite the prevalence of historic lead fills in collections, there is little published information on how to contend with historic lead fills in modern object conservation treatments. Of particular interest for the authors is the interaction of more current conservation fill materials with lead repairs. This presentation will focus on the challenges encountered in working with in-situ lead fills, as demonstrated through the case study of an outdoor, cast bronze sculpture of Mercury currently on display at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA. With this object, the authors not only had to contend with damage to the bronze caused by leaching lead corrosion, but also the unforeseen complications involved in attempting to apply new, modern fill materials on top of the preserved historic fills. Health and safety concerns were also a consideration when developing the treatment plan, as the complete removal of the lead was not an option due to lack of disposal facilities and suitable protective equipment. In the end, a treatment methodology was developed through trial and error that, while using somewhat unorthodox materials for museum object conservation, resulted in a treatment that preserved the original fills, stabilized the sculpture for outdoor display, and vastly improved the aesthetic appearance of the bronze.

avatar for Sarah Giffin

Sarah Giffin

Assistant Conservator, RLA Conservation
Sarah Giffin is an assistant objects conservator for the Los Angeles studio of RLA Conservation. She graduated with an MA and an MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums from University College London in 2016. Prior to working at RLA she worked for the National Park Service... Read More →

avatar for Humberto del Rio

Humberto del Rio

Chief conservation Technician, RLA Conservation of Art + Architecture
Humberto del Rio holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Instituto Politécnico de Química “Mártires de Girón” in Havana, Cuba, with a specialization in Industrial Chemistry. Prior to joining RLA Humberto worked for Conservation Solutions, Inc. as a stone technician and served as a... Read More →
avatar for Christina Varvi-[PA]

Christina Varvi-[PA]

Senior Conservator, RLA Conservation, Inc.
Christina Varvi, Senior Conservator and Professional Associate of the AIC, holds an M.S. in Historic Preservation with a concentration in Materials Conservation from Columbia University. A specialist in architectural and public art conservation, Christina is RLA’s lead professional... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston


Facilitated Discussion
avatar for Jessica Walthew

Jessica Walthew

Conservator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Jessica Walthew is an objects conservator at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She holds an MA in Art History and Archaeology with advanced certificate in Conservation from NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center. Her research and teaching interests include history... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston


(Imaging Technology) Using Photogrammetry to Understand the Mechanical Behavior of Bound Volumes
Image Permanence Institute (IPI) has been studying the chemical and mechanical stability of collection materials for thirty years. One area of focus has been on the rate of moisture equilibration of library and archive materials. That research has led us to understand that it may take weeks or even months for an entire bound volume to equilibrate to a change in ambient relative humidity. However, experiential evidence demonstrates that the outer layer, or “skin,” of a book can react quickly to certain environmental changes leading to potential mechanical deformation. Studying the mechanical behavior of books is particularly challenging as they are three-dimensional, complex, composite objects made of diverse materials and constructed in a variety of ways. IPI is currently using a photogrammetry technique called Digital Image Correlation (DIC) to further our understanding of the mechanical behavior of common library and archive materials as well as the “skin” of bound volumes. Individual materials such as paper, book cloth, leather, and parchment were tested as well as bound volumes that range in date from early 18th century to late 20th century. Book samples are bound with a variety of materials and have varying structures, including tight back, hollow back, and perfect bindings in full, half, and quarter leather, cloth, and paper as well as full vellum bindings. DIC is a relatively new imaging technology that allows for the study of dimensional changes in two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. A random dot pattern is applied to the test material and imaged in stereo. Software analyzes the images and measures dimensional displacement within the material producing 2-D and 3-D strain models. Of particular interest is the correlation between moisture transfer and strain, and the amount of strain experienced in bound volumes with changes in environment. This data will help determine the upper and lower limits of temperature and relative humidity necessary to avoid permanent deformation and will better inform our models for sustainable preservation environmental parameters.

avatar for Alice S. Carver-Kubik

Alice S. Carver-Kubik

Research Scientist, Image Permanence Institute
Alice Carver-Kubik is a Research Scientist at Image Permanence Institute. Her research focus is on collection storage environments and the mechanical behavior of library and archive materials. She received her M.A. in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson... Read More →

avatar for Jean-Louis Bigourdan

Jean-Louis Bigourdan

Senior Research Scientist, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology
Jean-Louis Bigourdan is a senior research scientist at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA. He has a background in Chemistry, photography and conservation of photographic materials. He received his diploma in the conservation... Read More →
avatar for Douglas Nishimura

Douglas Nishimura

Senior Research Scientist, Image Permanence Institute
Douglas W. Nishimura, Senior Research Scientist, received his degree in chemistry from McMaster University in Canada. He is a member of the joint ISO-ANSI committee responsible for the physical properties and permanence of imaging materials. Before joining IPI as a research scientist... Read More →

James Reilly

Founder and Director, Image Permanence Institute
James M. Reilly is the founder and director of IPI. He has made important contributions to image preservation, environmental management, and sustainable preservation practices. During its tenure, Jim was Co-director of the Advanced Residency Program in Photographic Conservation, a... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston


(Material Questions) Between subtle and silent: the conservation of Max Neuhaus' Sound Figure at the Menil Collection
In 2006 the Menil Collection commissioned Max Neuhaus to create a sculpture for the museum's main building using the artist-specified medium of sound. The resulting work, Sound Figure, was inaugurated at the museum's entrance two years later. Neuhaus died the following year and despite combined efforts of the artist, his consulting audio engineer and the Menil to plan for the preservation of the work, it has operated only intermittently since 2011. Sound Figure will be used as an introduction to Neuhaus’ permanent installations in the United States and Europe while examining specific components of his works that present conservation challenges, including programming created to automate the works and corresponding websites designed for maintenance and monitoring. An additional complicating issue revolves around the technical means by which Sound Figure actively adjusts output to maintain a consistent relationship to ambient noise levels - a distinguishing feature that points to new directions the artist’s work was taking prior to his death. Using excerpts from Neuhaus’ 2008 Artists Documentation Program interview and the treatment history of Sound Figure as a case study, the opportunities and challenges presented by the work in recent years will be explored: the discrepancy between the preservation plan provided by the artist at inception and the actual needs demonstrated over time; the accelerated rate of hardware and software incompatibility leading to the ultimate failure of the artwork; the unanticipated need to quantify the audio output prior to replacing components; the role of consultants, the artist's estate and other stakeholders in resolving functionality issues; and the experience and training opportunities this multi-faceted project has presented to emerging conservation professionals.

avatar for Bradford Epley

Bradford Epley

Conservator, The Menil Collection
Brad Epley joined the Menil Collection in 1999 as assistant paintings conservator and was appointed Chief Conservator in 2006, overseeing the museum’s conservation activities and co-directing the Artists Documentation Program. Epley received his undergraduate degree in chemistry... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Conservation Coordinator, The Menil Collection
Sarah Thompson is the Conservation Coordinator at the Menil Collection where she assists conservators with the treatment of collection objects and coordinates conservation projects across the museum’s campus. She initiated the conservation department's efforts to implement workflows... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Natural History Collections) Eggstraordinary: The conservation and mounting of historically significant great auk eggs
The Natural History Museum, Tring, UK is one of only a handful of institutions around the world that holds several Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) eggs within its collection. Great Auks were hunted to extinction in the mid-19th century and there are less than 100 eggs known to be left in existence around the world. The eggs are not only important due to their rarity, but also their provenance. Each one has a significant history and previous owners include these important collectors - William Bullock, Lionel Walter Rothschild and Henry Baker Tristram. The project initiated through a PhD thesis to investigate the surface and porosity structure differences among egg shells within the Auk family. The curator requested that specialist mounts be fabricated to hold and protect the eggs while carrying out the micro CT scanning in addition to remedial conservation treatments. All materials used had to be conservation grade as it was requested that the eggs be kept in these scanning mounts during the project. Two of the eggs exhibited severe cracking and were vulnerable to further damage and potential loss. All of the eggs were housed in acidic packaging (increasing the risk of Byne’s disease) and inappropriately sized boxes. Repair and consolidation tests were carried out on experimental egg shells to formulate an appropriate treatment. The cracks were consolidated and repaired using Lascaux Medium for Consolidation and Lascaux 498HV (aqueous acrylic dispersions) with Japanese tissue paper. Failed adhesives from previous repairs were removed using laser ablation. In addition to this, a 3D print of Bullock’s Great Auk Egg was created from a 3D digital surface scan in order to fabricate a new mount and storage solution for the egg. This conservation project has comprised a multidisciplinary team from across the museum including a conservator, curator, engineer, 3D visualization specialist, micro CT scanning specialist and a PhD student. It has highlighted the conservation needs of our egg collections within the museum and demonstrated how the use of technology can contribute to mount fabrication. It is hoped that the materials and treatments applied in this case can be further applied to other fragile egg collections in institutions

avatar for Arianna Lea Bernucci

Arianna Lea Bernucci

Senior Conservator, The Natural History Museum
Arianna Lea Bernucci is currently a Senior Conservator at The Natural History Museum in London, UK. She recently led the conservation of the blue whale skeleton in the museum's central Hintze Hall. Prior to this she was a conservator at The British Museum and Imperial War Museum... Read More →

avatar for Amin Garbout

Amin Garbout

Imaging Specialist, Natural History Museum, London
avatar for Duncan Jackson

Duncan Jackson

PhD Student, University of Sheffield

Amy Scott Murray

3D Visualisation Specialist, Natural History Museum, London

Douglas G. D. Russell

Senior Curator, Natural History Museum

Friday June 1, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston


(Problematic Materials) The Day Day-Glo loses its Glo(w): An Interdisciplinary Approach in Conserving Artworks Containing Daylight Fluorescent Paints
Since the 1960s, American artists like Frank Stella (1936°), Richard Bowman (1918-2001), Herbert Aach (1923-1985), James Rosenquist (1933-2017) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987), started to incorporate Day-Glo (daylight fluorescent) paints in their artworks. These luminescent, synthetic, modern paints, became popular because they revealed a new dimension in color that resulted in unseen visual experiences, like illusory color depth, optical vibration and new contrast effects. Unfortunately, there is a downside to the use of fluorescent paints, in that they age much faster than conventional colors and digitalising their luminescent effect isn’t possible up till now. Most colors in artworks appear through absorption and reflection of inorganic pigments. Fluorescent pigments, on the contrary, consist in a grounded substance based on an organic dye-resin-mixture. This kind of pigment absorbs energy of the short-wavelength range of the light spectrum and reemits this energy over a narrow range of longer-wavelength light. The resin matrix of fluorescent pigments is very fragile and already after a few years, due to exposure to (ultraviolet)light, the fluorescent color gradually starts to lose its intensity and saturation. For this presentation, I’ll start by briefly discussing my art historical research, in which I’ll compare three different uses of fluorescent colors in paintings of Frank Stella, Richard Bowman and Herbert Aach. After interviewing Stella, I found out that he not only used them for their intensity and self-referential quality, but also for their transparency. These material-qualities perfectly fitted his ‘paintings as object’-concept. Bowman was among the very first artists who used them (since 1950) and saw the fact that these paints emit real light from the canvas as an extension of the painted light effects in works of the (post-)impressionists. Aach was an artist and color engineer who made his own fluorescent paints. Beside the fact that his paintings reveal unseen fluorescent colors, he also developed a detailed study of their visual effects in his writings. While discussing this selection of artworks, both the (unique) visual effects and their irreversible loss of intensity due to aging, will be addressed. In the second part, I’ll draw attention to the fact that it is impossible to digitalise or photograph the visual effects of a fluorescent artwork. A photo will only capture a high-key colored version without the fluorescent-effects. As the degradation is inevitable and the problem of reproduction remains, it is necessary to create an additional fine-grained taxonomy of each artwork, which enables and preserves a correct reading of the fluorescent works. To conclude this presentation, I will give an example of such a taxonomy, based on recent interdisciplinary research on four of Stella’s Irregular Polygons paintings, consisting in art historical methods, perceptual psychology and data gained from material-technical research. As a solution, readings resulting from such a taxonomy will serve as ‘visual memory’ for artworks that eventually become milky-coloured ‘ruins’, devoid of their original meaning.

avatar for Stefanie De Winter

Stefanie De Winter

PhD student, University of Leuven
Stefanie De Winter studied conservation of paintings at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, where she focused on conservation problems related to fluorescent paint layers. After a stint as a conservator in NYC, where she worked on contemporary American paintings (mostly Frank Stella), she... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston
Saturday, June 2


A Failure Shared is Not a Failure: Learning from Our Mistakes
Conservators from all specialty groups are invited to gather and share some of their less happy moments, including treatment errors, mishaps and accidents, with the idea of helping our colleagues not to repeat them. Attendees are welcome to step up and present their tales themselves, or submit them to be read anonymously. Video projection available for illustrations. Extra points for suggesting safeguards and solutions! Cash bar. Come, relax & unwind, share, and learn”. 

avatar for Rebecca Gridley

Rebecca Gridley

Assistant Conservator, Objects Conservation Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rebecca holds a BA in Art History from Yale University, and an MS in Conservation and MA in Art History & Archaeology from the Conservation Center, The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She is currently an Assistant Conservator in the Objects Conservation Department at The Metropolitan... Read More →
avatar for Anthony Sigel

Anthony Sigel

Senior Conservator of Objects and Sculpture, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
Tony Sigel is the Senior Conservator of Objects and Sculpture at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums, and is responsible for the treatment of sculpture and three dimensional objects of all materials from pre-history to post-modern. He was... Read More →

avatar for Bruker Corporation

Bruker Corporation

Bruker Corporation
Bruker is one of the world’s leading analytical instrumentation companies. We cover a broad spectrum of advanced solutions in all fields of research and development. Bruker’s innovative methods and non-destructive analytical techniques help to protect and preserve artifacts and... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Texas Ballrooms F-H Marriott Marquis Houston