One place I know I don’t want to go is Antarctica. This is not to say that I think Antarctica is dull or something like that (I like the idea of auroras, bright stars, and a frozen, treeless tundra), it’s just that it’s cold in a kind of deathly way. But recently I’ve been hooked on reading about a team of dedicated art conservators working at Scott Base. Their Antarctic Conservation Blog is hosted by the British Natural History Museum.
I’m not really sure how productive I would be in -40 degree weather (really, who wants to sleep in a snow filled bedroom or use a frozen porta-potty, but it’s been cool to read how these conservators recently completed treatments on an historic iron-alloy match box and a sewing box, reams of paper and a screw packet, to name just a few things. Their adventures in this dark and frozen world are always worth a read and besides where else are you going to hear about people riding around in Haaglands and Piston Bullies? I wonder what kind of license you need to drive one of those things.
Besides imagining myself working in a snow-filled tundra, I’ve been digging around on the internet for other blogs about art conservation. Not surprisingly I can find only one blog devoted to conservation in Antarctica, but what did find out is that there are a lot more blogs related to book and paper conservation than any other specialty in my profession. I enjoy the irony of this: that the people that are responsible for preserving the thing that the internet seems to be eliminating are the ones that seem the most interested and comfortable using it.
Take for example blogs by Jeff Peachey, Holly Robertson, and Beth Heller. Jeff Peachey always has something interesting to share about working as a book conservator: from talking about type-setting tools to posting about one of the larger topics currently being discussed in my profession: certification. Holly Robertson’s blog Do I really want to touch that with my hand? provides a behind-the-scenes look into a book conservator’s work at the University of Virginia Library. And Beth Heller’s blog Beth Heller Conservation covers a lot of territory (who knew she had something from her collection traveling to space?)
In addition to blogs about book and paper conservation, there are a few blogs out there about archaeological digs. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Dig Diaries (hosted by the University of Michigan), is a blog where you can find out what conservators Suzanne Davis and Claudia Chemello are doing at the site in Tel Kedesh Israel. Besides reading the weekly updates and seeing the field pictures, I’m a big fan of the Find of the Week.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention who I believe is the first person to blog about an art conservation project: The Brooklyn Museum’s Lisa Bruno first post back in 2006 was about a large-scale treatment of a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Since then, the BM has posted all sorts of conservation-related material: from the installation of a “Period Room”, to John Steele’s own “Dig Diaries”, to an in-depth discussion of the conservation of an Egyptian mummy that’s currently on view here at the IMA as part of the To Live Forever exhibition.
I don’t claim to have uncovered all of the blogs out there about art conservation. Have you seen any that are interesting? If so, will you leave me a comment with a link so I can check it out?
Filed under: Conservation