top of page

Angelica Zander Rudenstine Keynote Speaker 

Jane Henderson

Angelica Zander Rudenstine, born in Berlin, earned both Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees with honors at Oxford University as well as a Master of Arts degree with distinction in Classical Archaeology at Smith College and is a respected researcher and curator of art who did much to change the profession of Art Conservation. She authored the two-volume catalogue of the Guggenheim collection in 1976, followed by the exhaustive catalog of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice in 1987. Both works were among the rare collection catalogues of the 20th century to include detailed condition documentation and analysis, undertaken in partnership with conservators, demonstrating a depth of understanding of how condition and treatment history impact the deeply interconnected interpretive and stewardship relationships among artists, collectors, institutions, and scholars. 


She served as curator or co-curator of several major exhibitions, including The George Costakis Collection at the Guggenheim Museum; Kazimir Malevich at the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum; and Piet Mondrian at the National Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art. An accomplished author, in conjunction with her cataloging and curating work, she has written or edited six books and exhibition catalogs that have added immensely to our knowledge and appreciation of art history. She served on the editorial boards of the Art Bulletin and The American Scholar and offered frank and incisive advice to both Harvard University and the Getty Museum as chair of their visiting committees. 


She served as the Program Officer for the Museums and Art Conservation Program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 1994 to 2010. After in-depth meetings with conservation leaders about gaps and needs in the profession, she significantly strengthened initiatives in conservation science and photographic materials conservation. During her tenure as Program Officer, the funding she initiated benefitted 2,571 colleagues via 329 grants, including investments totaling over $40 million in conservation science and $50 million in photograph conservation. In addition to supporting endowments for the graduate conservation programs, she is also widely credited with establishing the model of dedicated academic engagement positions in college and university art museums that continue to deepen ties between collections and the curriculum. In May 2012, the University of Delaware awarded her the degree of Doctor of Humanities. 

Keynote Lecture: Greeting Challenges: Ambitions for Change in Conservation

Jane Henderson,  BSc, MSc, PACR, FIIC, is a Professor of Conservation and the Secretary General of the International Institute for Conservation. Jane serves on the editorial panel of the Journal of the Institute for Conservation, is a co-opted member on the trustee board of the Welsh Federation of Museum and Art Galleries and is a visiting Researcher of the Scientific Conservation Institute in Beijing.  Jane serves on the European standards body CEN TC 346 WG11 and on the BSI standard group B/560 concerned with the conservation of Tangible Cultural heritage. Jane was delighted and honoured to win the Plowden medal in 2021.

Speaker Abstracts and Bios
In Alphabetical Order

Comparing Coatings for the Conservation of the 3-D Printed, Magnesia-Based Cement Sculpture Rygo

Melissa Allen

Queen's University Department of Art Conservation


The large-scale concrete sculpture Rygo, by artist Bathsheba Grossman, was 3D printed in 2012 using magnesia-based cement. Now privately owned, Rygo is displayed outdoors which has led to severe cracking and delamination. Due to the unique combination of an atypical cement and the 3-D printing process, there is currently no literature to draw upon concerning which conservation materials might effectively be used to slow the deterioration of the sculpture. Previous research shows that the application of a coating material could be beneficial. To determine which coating material is most compatible, samples from the sculpture that had already become disassociated from the whole were used for this research. The samples were imaged, examined under the microscope, and analyzed with x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and x-ray diffraction (XRD). Coatings from Evonik Protectosil and Prosoco were evaluated. Visual changes were assessed using a handheld colour spectrophotometer and glossmeter. Changes to porosity were assessed with a water drop test. Samples were evaluated before and after application of the coatings, as well as after artificial aging at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) in a QUV accelerated weathering tester for 45 days, the industry standard to represent one year of outdoor exposure. The goal of the research is to determine which coating is the most appropriate from a conservation perspective to allow Rygo to be appreciated for years to come.

Melissa Allen completed her Bachelor of Fine Art with Great Distinction in Art History and Studio Art at Concordia University in 2018. She worked as a public art conservation intern with the Edmonton Arts Council in 2021. In that position she particularly enjoyed working on the conservation of outdoor steel and bronze sculptures. Melissa is interested in the conservation of a wide variety of materials both organic and inorganic. She enjoyed the opportunity to develop a tear repair technique for a birch bark biting and is currently researching coatings for a large outdoor 3-D printed concrete sculpture.

Remoistenable Nanocellulose Film: Practical Application and Analysis

Robin Canham

Queen's University Department of Art Conservation

Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), commonly referred to as nanocellulose, is an emerging material in the conservation field. Due to its properties of transparency and high mechanical strength, nanocellulose film offers novel potential in paper conservation when Japanese tissue may not be suitable for use in treatments. However, the reaction of nanocellulose film to the direct application of water is particularly different to that of Japanese tissue. When water or aqueous adhesives are applied to nanocellulose, the wet film loses stability and becomes pulpy, making practical use problematic. Additionally, nanocellulose film can shrink upon drying, causing planar deformation. For these reasons, adhesives used with nanocellulose are limited in published treatments to date. Remoistenable tissue has been used in paper conservation for many years as a standard material for mending and lining damaged paper objects, especially those that are moisture sensitive. Therefore, the possibility to create remoistenable nanocellulose film using an established methodology may hold promise. This presentation reports on research conducted into the potential of using nanocellulose film in a remoistenable form. Specifically, the research aims to build upon current understanding of how nanocellulose film reacts when water and ethanol are introduced, through swelling and shrinkage tests, and recommends practical techniques to successfully create remoistenable nanocellulose film with a selection of adhesives.

Robin Canham is in her final year at Queen’s University in the Master of Art Conservation program, specializing in paper conservation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (English) from the University of Regina and a Master of Information Studies, with a focus in Library Studies, from the University of Toronto. Robin previously interned at the Queen’s University Archives and is the current Conservation Graduate Assistant at the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections. She has been actively involved with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) since 2005 and has held positions within CBBAG on provincial and national levels.

Evaluation of Shelter Coating as a Preventive Conservation Method for Earthen Sites

Ali Cavicchio

University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Historic Preservation

The global practice of applying a sacrificial layer or “shelter coating” to earthen architecture is used at many historic sites to protect and reduce surface erosion. In many climates and contexts, historic earthen ruins deteriorate more rapidly when left unprotected. Even when treated with a shelter coat, the structures require cyclical maintenance and monitoring. When there is cracking or loss of the shelter coat, the underlying earthen substrate (adobe) is exposed to the elements and the wall or floor surfaces become vulnerable to moisture which can lead to loss and collapse. Worldwide, the formulas and application methods for shelter coats vary based on local materials and traditions, site management practices, and the use of amendments. Shelter coats are by design, renewable and therefore reversible through reapplication, a key consideration as practitioners make strides to embrace more sustainable conservation efforts. With the correct formula and application technique, shelter coating can allow historic earthen sites to be protected in situ and prolong their physical status with minimal loss of the remaining original fabric. This thesis aims to examine earthen shelter coats applied as a method of preventive conservation to exposed adobe walls at archaeological or otherwise uninhabited heritage sites. While formulas and application methods for shelter coats can vary, their performance should satisfy critical optimal properties identified through laboratory and field testing. The current research identifies and evaluates performance parameters for earthen shelter coats proposed for the site of Fort Union National Monument and tests their efficacy in a series of lab-based simulations.

Ali Cavicchio is a candidate for the Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MSHP) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. She is specializing in Architectural Conservation with a particular interest in earthen heritage. As a Research Fellow with the Center for Architectural Conservation at Penn she has worked on preservation projects at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin, Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico, and at Fort Union National Monument in Watrous, NM. Prior to entering the MSHP program, Ali worked in the international development and human rights sector and has extensive experience designing and managing humanitarian assistance and social cohesion projects in the Middle East and North Africa region and Afghanistan.

Restored with Light: Use of Projection Mapping in Historic Preservation

Preme Chaiyatham

Columbia University, Historic Preservation Department

There are many situations in which conservators are unable to physically restore historic artifacts and sites, whether because of their fragile condition, insufficient data to validate the restoration, financial constraints, or issues of ethics. Projection mapping can be a valuable tool to help visually and virtually interpret our heritage. It is a technique that enables us to temporarily alter an environment without physically changing it. Although it has been widely used in other fields, its application to cultural heritage has been limited. While the method can range from simple to highly complicated, the fundamental premise remains the same: the employment of light through projectors to change the appearance of the space. With no physical touch and perfect reversibility, it has the potential to be employed broadly in the preservation field. The presentation illustrates the principles and examines previous implementation of the technology on cultural assets, including Sant Climent de Taull, the Temple of Dendur, Mark Rothko’s Harvard murals, and the Thomas Cole House. Experiments were carried out on colored surfaces to explore the potential and the limits of projection mapping. This included work done at a historic house museum to simulate its now-concealed faux masonry finishes. Interviews with visitors and staff were undertaken to assess the merit of this approach. Conclusions from this research will help to establish a preliminary guideline for the use of projection mapping as an interpretive tool for cultural institutions. It is hoped that it will also spark a conversation among preservation practitioners, to consider incorporating this technique into their “toolboxes.”

Preme Chaiyatham completed her undergraduate degree in interior architecture, specializing in spatial design for residential, commercial and organizational interiors. She then worked in the interior design and built environment industry for four years in Bangkok, Thailand. With her experience with older structures, she decided to pursue graduate work in Columbia University’s historic preservation program, where she has been a laboratory and teaching assistant, and a representative on the program council. Her professional goal is to work in the field of adaptive reuse, as a preservation architect and interior designer.

Leaf-induced Damage to Finishes for Outdoor Bronze Sculpture

Jonathan Clemente

Columbia University, Historic Preservation Department

In wooded locations, leaf accumulation on bronze sculpture is not uncommon. Leaves are very complex natural materials, with variable chemical compositions. When they sit on bronze surfaces for prolonged periods of time, they can retain moisture, decompose, release organic acids, and encourage localized microbiological growth. In order to study the relationship between leaves and the finishes commonly used on outdoor bronze, 16 coupons (of an alloy similar to those that were used historically) were patinated with Birchwood Casey M-38 Antique Brown solution. Four of these coupons were treated with a microcrystalline wax coating, four were given an acrylic clear coating, four received a combination of acrylic and wax coatings, and four remained uncoated. Each coupon was partially immersed in either a leaf paste—prepared from three different types of leaves--or rainwater for several weeks. After only two days, uncoated coupons within leaf pastes showed significant loss of patina. The on-going experiments are intended to determine the effectiveness of the coatings against this damage.

Jonathan Clemente has an undergraduate degree in archaeology from CUNY Hunter College. His interest has always been in the complex relationship between buildings and landscapes. He is currently a second-year graduate student in Columbia University’s program in historic preservation. A summer internship at Woodlawn Cemetery provided him with an opportunity to consider issues of environmental deterioration and practical conservation as these relate to the care of outdoor sculpture, mausoleums and funerary monuments.


Benzo-trying-something-new: A Comparison of Corrosion Inhibitors on Copper Coupons

Lauren Conway, Tamara Dissi, Jenny McGough, Isabel Schneider, and Céline Wachsmuth

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage


Sustainable alternatives in metals conservation are increasingly sought after, particularly with the possibly carcinogenic nature of BTA, the most commonly used corrosion inhibitor in the field. As part of the Metals 1 Lab course at the UCLA/Getty MA Conservation Program, students learned about corrosion inhibitors and had an interest in exploring green solutions. As part of the class, students replicated treatments suggested in the literature. Seeking to expand on two relatively unstudied green organic solutions for iron treatment, the efficacy of five corrosion inhibitors were tested on copper coupons in an effort to find non-toxic, inexpensive, and accessible options. Although there is no published evidence for their use on copper, ginger and black pepper extract were tested alongside a published green alternative, Cysteine, as well as Benzotriazole (BTA), and BTA mixed with 5-amino-2-mercapto-1,3,4-thiadiazole (or AMT). The study took the form of an accelerated aging experiment in which copper coupons (99% Cu), with both smooth and roughened surfaces, were soaked in a saturated sodium chloride solution. After drying, the corrosion inhibitors were applied to the coupons, allowed to cure, and placed in a high relative humidity microclimate conditioned by super saturated sodium chloride salt solutions to induce corrosion. The coupons were monitored over the course of several weeks and evaluated upon removal from the chamber. Corrosion inhibitor performance was determined by observing visual alterations through digital, color corrected SLR photography and microscopy. Results are forthcoming.

Consolidation of Flaking Paint on a Yoruba Stool

Lauren Conway

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage

A polychrome wooden stool made by the Yoruba people and now at the Fowler Museum at UCLA was selected for treatment as part of an Organics Laboratory class in winter 2020. The paint layer was extremely unstable and actively flaking off of the surface. Solubility testing revealed the red, white, and black paints on the stool had differing solubilities, which greatly limited the possible consolidants that could be used during treatment. Ultimately, Beva-371 in odorless mineral spirits (OMS) was selected to consolidate the flaking paint on the stool. A white bloom formed on the surface in some areas after consolidation, but this was easily removed using a heat spatula. Although Beva-371 did cause a slight color change to the white paint, this was deemed acceptable because stabilization of the paint was the priority.

Lauren Conway is a second-year student in the UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Master’s Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. She received a B.A. in anthropology on the archaeology track from Barnard College in 2018. Prior to arriving at UCLA, she interned at the American Museum of Natural History, the New-York Historical Society, and Columbia University Libraries Conservation Lab. Lauren is currently researching proper storage and handling techniques for poisoned weapons for her thesis research. She is planning to intern at Kaman-Kalehöyük in Turkey this summer, and will spend her third year interning at the Weltmuseum in Vienna, Austria, and the Arizona State Museum in Tucson, AZ.


Fungal Pigments: An Investigation into their Environmental Stability and Application to Conservation

Tamara Dissi

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage


Spalting is the result of fungal metabolic processes that create unique, colored patterns inside of wood. Fungal pigments are of growing interest in conservation due to their light fast, color fast, and UV light stable nature. They could have potentially significant applications to the field of conservation because of their environmental stability. Possible applications include lightfast pigmented coatings or inpainting mediums. In the literature, the fungal pigments are acclaimed to be light and UV resistant, however, they have not been evaluated to museum or conservation standards. To do so, accelerating aging experiments on fungal pigment coupons were conducted and subsequently compared to blue wool standards. Additionally, experiments were conducted to assess whether fungal pigments could be incorporated into B-72 and to what capacity.  

Tamara Dissi is a graduate student in the UCLA/Getty MA program for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. She received her BA from UC Berkeley in Art History. She has a diverse array of pre-program and graduate experience ranging from archaeological fieldwork work in Petra, Jordan, to a range of paintings and objects conservation projects at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of Asian Art. She has also participated in conservation training initiatives in Jordan where she co-authored an artifact handling training manual, later translated into Arabic, for emerging Jordanian heritage professionals. She is most passionate about the preservation of heritage and capacity building efforts of the Middle and Near East.

Possible Material Limitations of Cold Storage

Sarah Freshnock 

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation


Cold environments are recommended as a storage practice for many materials as well as a method for pest remediation. While exposure to cold environments is becoming a more common practice for many material types, many adhesives commonly used in the conservation field and in artist practice have yet to be studied before and after being frozen and thawed. For this study, poly vinyl acetate adhesive was chosen due to the common usage of this material. Using visual examination, Py-GC/MS, and FTIR, samples of PVA will be analyzed before and after being frozen and thawed to see if any deacetylation and/or loss of plasticizer is occurring due to the freezing and thawing process. Through this research a closer look into cold storage practices will be started and a commonly used conservation material will be further understood.

Sarah Freshnock is a second-year preventive conservation major with a passion for materials testing and providing context driven sustainable conservation solutions for collections of all sizes. During her time at the Winterthur/Delaware Program in Art Conservation she has focused on projects related to building diagnostics, environmental monitoring, unique light monitoring solutions, and partnerships with a local museum and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. While not busy in graduate school, she is pursuing her weightlifting goals, getting outside, or trying out new cookie recipes.

Analytical Investigation of Robert Rauschenberg’s Dye and Pigment-based Inkjet Transfer Works: A Case Study of Identifying Colorants to Understand Fading 

Elle Friedberg

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation


Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was an American visual and performing artist who experimented with the transfer and manipulation of photographic images throughout his career. In 1992, Rauschenberg started using a water-based inkjet transfer printing technique using colorants from both dye-based and pigment-based inkjet inks. The colorants of these works have been seen to fade over time, in some cases far enough that the work is no longer representative of the artist’s intent. The purpose of this study is to distinguish between and identify Rauschenberg’s use of dye-based and pigment-based inkjet inks. Three inkjet transfer works from the RRF study collection will be used as case studies for visual and compositional analysis. 


While scientific analysis provides insight into the colorant’s chemical composition, the ultimate decisions about the proper balance between display and storage and judgments on whether a faded work in the marketplace has depreciated involve more objective philosophical and ethical considerations.

Elle Friedberg is a second-year objects major in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). Elle’s most recent projects include the stain reduction of a nineteenth-century ceramic bowl, interventive and preventive treatment of a 1930s traveling salesperson’s kit, and the interview of a contemporary artist to inform the treatment of her mixed-media sculpture. Elle also serves as one of the WUPDAC conservation fellows in a collaboration with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Voices in Contemporary Art. Before beginning graduate studies, Elle interned at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Worcester Art Museum.

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?: A Study of Sampling Techniques for Stain Analysis on The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse

Kaeley Furguson

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation


Stain removal remains controversial within the field because while stains provide historical context, evidence of use, and historicity, many professionals have concerns about long term deterioration. That being said, many treatments now bring into consideration the importance of leaving these signs of use and weigh the pros and cons of differing treatment options to allow the object to remain functional and useful, while also respecting its history. In this project, stain analysis aims to enhance our understanding of the evidence of use within an 1805 cookbook published in Virginia, The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse. This research aims to compare different sampling techniques for stain analysis on paper including surface extraction, solvent extraction, and gel extraction. These samples will be tested using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS), and Peptide Mass Fingerprinting (PMF) to evaluate their efficacy, as well as compare the different analytical techniques to each other.

Kaeley Ferguson (she/her) is a second-year graduate fellow at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation majoring in Library and Archives conservation with a minor in Paper conservation. She graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a BA in Chemistry and minors in Visual Arts and Art History. She has worked at many institutions including the MFA Boston, Northeast Document Conservation Center, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. During her second year, Kaeley is enjoying questioning things she thought she knew about conservation, working with leather, and taking walks around Delaware with her dog, Rex. 

Comparative Study of American Cloth Covered Bindings 1850-1869 and Treatment of The Silver Sunbeam (1864)

Emma Guerard

Buffalo State College, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

19th-century cloth-covered edition bindings, also called publisher's bindings, are often collected for the gold-stamped motifs on their colorful cloth covers. These books are ubiquitous in collections because they were mass-produced to meet growing demands for texts, and are sometimes known to be susceptible to damage through their weak board connections. They may be treated in a conservation context to address such damage without a thorough understanding of the industrialized binding practices in which they were produced. This study concerns the treatment of an 1864 publisher's binding, The Silver Sunbeam, informed by research of historic binding practices, comparative study of similar bindings, and technical study. Ten cloth-covered edition bindings, produced in America between 1850 and 1869, were selected for comparative study. A history of bookbinding practices in industrialized American binderies of the 19th century is presented. The books were examined for evidence of machine manufacture. Study of the book structures was enhanced with raking illumination photography, Reflectance transformation imaging (RTI), and X-radiography. Elemental analysis of colorants in the book cloths was done with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF). Fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) and multi-spectral imaging (MSI) were explored as methods for differentiating dyed cloth covers. The study revealed varieties of bookbinding practices despite the degree of standardization introduced by industrialized binding techniques. Information gained from the comparative study of the bindings informed a stabilization treatment of The Silver Sunbeam, a photography manual published in 1864.

Emma Guerard (she/her) is an Andrew W. Mellon Library and Archives Conservation Fellow in the Buffalo State College Garman Art Conservation Department. She is currently finishing her graduate studies with a 12 month internship at the University of Iowa Libraries. Prior to attending Buffalo, she earned a B.A. in Art History from the University of Washington and held pre-program positions in conservation including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

A Technical Approach to Rembrandt: The Examination of Head of an Old Man in a Cap

Jocelyn Hillier

Queen's University Department of Art Conservation

Rembrandt is celebrated for masterfully depicting the full extent of human emotion in his portraiture. His expressive brush strokes and dramatic lighting have enamored people for centuries. Through extensive technical examination, this research project aims to determine the materials and techniques employed by Rembrandt to create Head of an Old Man in a Cap (ca. 1630) from the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, in Kingston, Ontario. Initial imaging was accomplished to capture the front, reverse, raking light, ultraviolet reflectance (UVR), ultraviolet fluorescence (UVF), and infrared reflectance. Further examination was carried out using digital 2D and 3D microscopy, X-radiography, infrared reflectography (IRR), external reflectance infrared spectroscopy (ER-IR), and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF). The examinations have provided an in-depth understanding of Rembrandt’s paint handling ability and the techniques he used to render the evocative image. The preliminary X-radiography and IR imaging have revealed an underlying image that may be an underpainting or a different incomplete painting. The results from this painting were then compared to those from similar paintings from the Ashmolean in Oxford, England, and the Mauritshuis in the Hague, Netherlands. The interpretation of the evidence gathered from this collaborative study contributes to the greater understanding of Rembrand’s materials and techniques in his artistic process.

Jocelyn Hillier is a second-year student specializing in paintings at the Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She received an Honours B.A. in Art History from Queen's University (2020), focusing her studies on technical art history and material culture. In 2019, Jocelyn attended a conservation program at the Lorenzo d' Medici Institute in Florence through Marist College. In 2021, she completed her summer internship at Gianfranco Pocobene's private conservation studio. Her research interests include traditional materials and techniques of the Italian Renaissance, conservation of panel paintings, and workshop practices of the Dutch Golden Age.

Navigating Challenges in the Reading Room: Conserving for Patron Use

Kathryn Kenney

Buffalo State College, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

During my internship at the Library of Congress, the treatment of an oversized atlas proved an interesting case study to challenge my own decision making practices and weigh the value of maintaining original materials against the goal of patron access. Many factors affect our treatment choices; often in libraries and archives, the institutional mission to provide patron access strongly drives these processes. A 1782 East India Pilot atlas, in its original binding, from the Geography and Map Division was brought to the Conservation Division with the request that the volume be split into two parts due the extreme difficulty of handling and shelving the nearly 40-pound book. After considering several treatment options and examining the structure of the book, I ultimately agreed that the only way to fulfill the library’s mission of patron access was to split and rebind the atlas.

Kathryn Kenney (she/her/hers) earned a B.A. in anthropology from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She was a conservation technician at Harvard University’s Weissman Preservation Center for five years in addition to holding positions at Sculpture & Decorative Arts Conservation Services and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. She was the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network liaison for Boston. Kathryn is the current Class of 2022 representative and is on the Washington Conservation Guild’s Emerging Professionals Committee. Kathryn is an Andrew W. Mellon Library and Archives Conservation Fellow and is currently the Advanced Book Conservation Intern at the Library of Congress.

Piecing Together a Damaged Relievo Ambrotype

Natasha Kung

New York University, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts

This presentation will describe the reconstruction of a damaged sixth-plate relievo ambrotype conducted under the supervision of the conservators at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). Relievo is a unique presentation method that gives an ambrotype portrait a sense of three-dimensionality by scraping away the collodion image layer around the sitter and painting the reverse of the glass support with black varnish. The glass support of the work in question was broken into six pieces with one area of loss. With Paraloid B-72 in toluene as an adhesive, it was stabilized using a vertical assembly method based upon reconstruction techniques used in glass conservation. Losses in the black backing were inpainted with pigments in Aquazol and adjusted for gloss. After treatment, the photograph and its housing components were rebound and reinserted into their case. The purpose of this case study is to share details of this treatment as well as considerations for adhesives and inpainting. This talk will also highlight ongoing research on the history of this ambrotype variation and present findings from a survey of relievo ambrotypes in the collection of the George Eastman Museum.

Natasha Kung is a fourth-year graduate student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, studying photograph conservation and art history. She graduated with bachelor’s degrees in art history and chemistry from New York University in 2016. She most recently was an intern at the Conservation Center of Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is currently completing her capstone internship at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. Prior to graduate school, she held internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum, among others. Her past research includes refining daguerreotype packages for bare plates without original housings and performing micro-fade testing of artist paints used by Nick Mauss to inform exhibition recommendations.

Formulation and Evaluation of a Biophilic Protective Surface Treatment for Stone Substrates 

Caitlin Livesey

University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Historic Preservation


Biogenic and biomimetic treatments in conservation have been under consideration for the past 20 years as an alternative approach to sustainable and preventive conservation treatment methods. This research explores the possibility of developing and evaluating an artificial surface treatment that, when applied to fragile stone surfaces, could offer both temporary protection and surface consolidation and promote beneficial microflora and biofilm growth in the long term. Recent studies have suggested that some biogrowth, in the form of microflora and biofilms, offers protection to deteriorated masonry surfaces, but their formation is slow, and substrates require temporary protection while encouraging growth formation. The colossal fossilized tree stumps at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (FLFO) provide evidence of the benefits of biogrowth, especially lichen, as a protective micro-capping, providing mechanical consolidation and reducing water absorption of the stump crown surfaces. This research develops and tests several potential protective biophilic surface treatments for stone substrates, for eventual application to the fossilized stumps at FLFO. The results could offer a new preservation treatment method using the benefits of artificial biophilic films to protect and induce microflora growth to prevent long-term deterioration in vulnerable geo-substrates.


Diamonds in the Rough: Challenges and Trials in the Assessment of Uncatalogued Collections

Jennifer McGough

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage

The Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research stewards cultural collections and paper and media records amassed on Borneo between 1959-2002 by anthropologists and linguists George N. and Laura W. R. Appell. Following an invitation by the trustees to identify and analyze these collections and their needs, Ellen Pearlstein, Professor, UCLA Information Studies and UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage and Dr. Kathy Carbone, UCLA Information Studies post-doc and now full-time instructor, shared in the supervising of MLIS rising second year student Anne Olivares and of Conservation rising second year student Jennifer McGough in summer 2021 to undertake a condition assessment of these richly linked collections. Assessment of these collections was challenging and multifaceted, necessitating the creation of a catalog, survey methodology, and environmental monitoring schedule in order to address materials that had never been fully documented before. Collaboration between foundation leaders and the UCLA faculty and students led to the design of a digital catalog encompassing both an item-level material culture assessment and a container-level archival assessment. Initial survey efforts revealed extensive environmental, safety, and pest hazards, requiring the implementation of triage conservation and remediation work to remove rodent detritus from previous infestation, quarantine mold outbreaks in cold storage, and treat active insect activity. The nearly 1,300 assessed items are estimated to make up only a third of the entire collection, but produced enough data to inform storage projections for planned future archival rehousing.

Jennifer McGough is a second-year student in the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. She earned her BA in Archaeology with minors in anthropology and art history from Cornell University in 2014, followed by an MSt in Archaeology from the University of Oxford in 2015. Before beginning her studies at UCLA, Jennifer completed pre-program objects conservation internships at the Fowler Museum and abroad at San Gemini Preservation Studies in Italy. She also works as a private conservation technician in Los Angeles focusing primarily on contemporary objects and paintings. Her thesis research is inspired by an interest in both Chinese cultural heritage and the growing application of novel technologies in the conservation field. 


Multi-Analytical Examination of an 18th-Century Velvet-bound Spanish Carta Ejecutoria (Carta de Ejecutoria de Hidalguía de Sangre de Nuñez D. Armesto, de Arce)

Verónica Mercado Oliveras

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation


The limited publications in Spanish and English dedicated to the inventory and material analysis of Iberian Cartas Ejecutorias (Patent of Nobility) constrict the understanding of their structural characteristics and preservation needs, leaving collections ignored, and their users potentially endangered. Aiming to start alleviating the knowledge gap, a 1792-93 velvet-bound illuminated Carta Ejecutoria was studied by combining bilingual historical research with nondestructive instrumental analysis that included Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) imaging, X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), and Raman Spectroscopy. By identifying pigments, inks, fillers, and binders, this work provides a glimpse into the materiality of similar Iberian manuscripts, thus supporting their preservation. Furthermore, this research gathers critical data to craft preservation, handling, and housing guidelines, emphasizing user’s safety, as arsenic was found throughout. The subsequent steps of this ongoing project will deepen worldwide understanding of analogous manuscripts, therefore promoting their access.

Verónica Mercado Oliveras was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is a second-year Library and Archives Conservation Education graduate fellow at WUDPAC. As an undergrad, she discovered that the island’s textual heritage was at risk due to the absence of book conservators and resource shortages. This inspired her to pursue training at institutions in Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and Italy to experience the contrasts between museum and library conservation, preservation, and disaster planning/response activities. Today, through outreach activities, translation, scientific analysis, hands-on conservation treatment, and preventive care, she aims to inspire the next generation of diverse emerging conservation professionals.

Verónica Mercado Oliveras nació y se crió en Puerto Rico y es becaria de segundo año en Educación para la Conservación de Bibliotecas y Archivos en WUDPAC. Como estudiante universitaria, descubrió que el patrimonio textual de la isla de Puerto Rico estaba en peligro debido a la ausencia de conservadores de libros y la escasez de recursos. Esto la inspiró a buscar capacitación en instituciones en Puerto Rico, Washington DC e Italia para experimentar los contrastes entre la conservación, preservación y actividades de planificación/respuesta ante desastres en museos y bibliotecas. Hoy, a través de actividades de divulgación, traducción, análisis científico, tratamiento de conservación práctico y cuidado preventivo, su objetivo es inspirar a la próxima generación de conservadores profesionales emergentes.

A Topographical Study of Silver Mirroring Treatment Methods on Gelatin Silver DOP Photographs

Emily Mercer

Buffalo State College, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department


One method conservators utilized in the past to reduce silvering mirroring on Gelatin DOP photographs involves the use of mechanical action with various tools. This pilot topographical study compared the surface on a Gelatin DOP photograph subjected to the mechanical action of three tools known to reduce silver mirroring. The tools chosen were a polyvinyl chloride eraser, polyvinyl chloride eraser crumbs, and a cosmetic sponge. Effects of the treatment on the photographic surface were analyzed with confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and optical light microscopy. Results indicated that all of the treatment tools caused changes to the surface but the eraser crumbs removed the most silver mirroring while causing the least amount of damage.

Emily Mercer is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she received her Bachelor’s of Art in Historic Preservation. Mercer completed pre-program internships in the paintings lab at The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia and the archaeology, paper, textiles, and wooden artifacts lab at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia. Mercer is currently a second-year graduate fellow at the Garman Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State specializing in photographic materials. During the summer of 2021 she completed an internship at Paul Messier LLC and starting fall of 2022 she will fulfill her third year at the Library of Congress.

Material Analysis and Conservation Treatment of Louise Nevelson’s sculpture Dawn’s Image, Night
Kaela Nurmi

Buffalo State College, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department


Louise Nevelson’s large-scale, matte black assemblage sculpture Dawn’s Image, Night, 1969, is owned by and currently on display at SUNY Buffalo State College. The paint layers exhibited significant amounts of dust, some damages, vandalism, and unsightly fingerprints. Extensive scientific analysis and archival research were utilized to design an appropriate treatment and long-term preservation plan. Methods of analysis include: Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, Pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, microchemical testing, and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The project also addresses the ethical considerations surrounding the prior removal of original components for safety considerations, repainting as a possible treatment, and the overall obstacles of treating a large uncoated, matte monochrome sculpture in-situ. The treatment was informed by scientific analysis, materials testing, and ethical considerations, resulting in minimal intervention.

Kaela Nurmi (she/her/hers) earned her B.A. in art conservation from Scripps College in Claremont, California and spent a semester in Florence, Italy studying at Studio Art College International. She gained conservation experience in Seattle, Washington at the Museum of Pop Culture, the Museum of History and Industry, and with the private practice Memoria Technica. Kaela interned at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden before working as the paintings conservation technician at Page Conservation, both in Washington, DC. She currently serves as the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network Outreach Officer. Kaela is currently in her third year internship in objects conservation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She is expected to earn her Master’s in Art and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State College in 2022.

El sistema de senderos interpretativos patrimoniales como alternativa para la valoración y conservación del paisaje cultural en el medio rural: el caso de Santiago Huatusco-Quauhtochco, Carrillo Puerto, Veracruz (The Heritage Interpretive Trails System as an Alternative for the Assessment and Conservation of the Cultural Landscape in Rural Areas: the case of Santiago Huatusco-Quauhtochco, Carrillo Puerto, Veracruz)

Sarahí Soriano Orozco

Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía "Manuel del Castillo Negrete"


La presente charla aborda un análisis desde la lógica de la interpretación del patrimonio a su relación con el paisaje cultural, desde sus orígenes, en el siglo XIX, hasta su concepto contemporáneo, así como su aplicación en México. Se busca, a través de la implementación de programas como los senderos interpretativos, generar conexiones, sentimientos y emociones tanto en los actores sociales que conviven con dichos bienes patrimoniales, como en los visitantes. La interpretación se concibe como una forma eficaz de valorar y revalorar, por ende, conservar los paisajes culturales. La discusión teórica que aquí se presenta se valida a través de un ejercicio de aplicación en el paisaje cultural de Santiago Huatusco-Quauhtochco en Carrillo Puerto Veracruz. Se asume el paisaje cultural como un contenedor complejo de valores patrimoniales y atributos naturales antropizados, con referencias a distintos momentos históricos.


The presentation deals with an analysis of the rationale of heritage interpretation and its relationship with the cultural landscape. From its origins, in the 19th century, to its contemporary concept, as well as its application in Mexico. It seeks, through the implementation of programs such as interpretive trails, to generate connections, feelings and emotions, both in the social actors who live with these heritage assets, as well as in its audience. Interpretation is conceived as an effective way of valuing and reassessing, therefore, conserving cultural landscapes. The theoretical discussion presented here is validated through an application exercise in the cultural landscape of Santiago Huatusco - Quauhtochco in Carrillo Puerto, Veracruz. The cultural landscape is assumed as a complex container of heritage values ​​and anthropized natural attributes, with references to different historical moments.


Sarahí Soriano Orozco, egresada de la licenciatura en arquitectura de la Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, tesista para obtener el grado de Maestra en Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales Inmuebles en la ENCRyM. Actualmente es como encargada del Departamento de Asuntos Culturales en el Consulado de México en Salt Lake City, Utah y co-fundadora del despacho de arquitectura y diseño de interiores, Amatista. Formó parte del cuerpo laboral del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia en el área de Monumentos Históricos del con sede en Sinaloa. Realizó prácticas profesionales en la Oficina de México en la UNESCO (gestión patrimonial) y en el proyecto de “Diagnóstico del Faro de San Felipe del Morro, en Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico” en conjunción con la Universidad de Puerto Rico y el National Park Service. También se ha desempeñado como auxiliar de proyectos, de administración, de supervisión de obra (en gerencias de supervisión de obra como Geycon y Acygal), proyectista en el ámbito hotelero (despacho de diseño AoMa Estudio), inmobiliario (GDC Desarrollos) y corporativo (Grupo Estuco). Cursó una movilidad estudiantil en la Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Málaga, España (enero-junio 2015) y un verano científico en diseño bioclimático en el Instituto de Ingeniería de la UNAM (junio-agosto 2014). 

Sarahí Soriano Orozco majored in architecture at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa and is now developing a thesis project to obtain her Master degree in Conservation and Restoration of Built Cultural Heritage at the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography “Manuel del Castillo Negrete” (ENCRyM). She is currently in charge of the Department of Cultural Affairs at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City, Utah. She served the National Institute of Anthropology and History in the Historical Monuments Department at Sinaloa’s headquarters. She also carried out an internship at Mexico’s UNESCO Office, (heritage management) and took part in the project, “Diagnosis of the San Felipe del Morro Lighthouse,” in Old San Juan along with the University of Puerto Rico and the National Park Service.

The Resurrection of a Corn-Osiris: Technical Study and Conservation Treatment of a Late-Period Egyptian Corn Mummy

Isabel Schneider

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage

A technical study was performed on a late-period Egyptian corn-mummy at the Michael C. Carlos Museum to understand how the object was made, determine if it had undergone previous restoration, and explore whether a more precise provenance could be resolved. Organic elements were examined using digital and polarized light microscopy and Fourier-Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Inorganic elements were analyzed with portable X-ray Fluorescence Reflectance (pXRF) spectroscopy. The mummiform package and associated ceramic balls were x-radiographed, and all elements were studied using color-corrected digital SLR photography and Ultraviolet luminescence (UVL) and Infrared Reflectance(IR) technical photography. The study informed a variety of conservation treatments to prepare the object for exhibition, including consolidating friable pigment layers, re-attaching bitumen fragments from the mummiform package, and repairing the wax mask. 

Isabel Schneider is a graduate student in the class of 2023 at the UCLA/ Getty conservation program. She has held conservation internships with the Michael C. Carlos Museum, the Israel Antiquities Authority, UPenn’s experimental field project on in-situ petrified wood, and she has participated on archaeological site conservation projects at various sites across Israel. Previously, she has worked as an artist, teacher, curator, and museum development officer. 

Agar Bioplastic: Understanding Its Degradation and Exploring Its Viability as a Fill Material for the Conservation of Glass Objects

Katharine Shulman

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation


Though most commonly used as a thickening agent in foods and a solidifying component of bacteriological culture media, agar has been widely accepted as a rigid gel used across conservation disciplines. It is easily accessible, simple to prepare and exhibits many properties that are desirable for a conservation material. In recent years agar has been explored more widely as a bioplastic alternative to traditional plastics. Bioplastics are plastics made from natural, raw materials rather than petroleum products/fossil fuels. Bioplastics are becoming more ubiquitous every day and have even made their way into the art world. Museums with design collections such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, MOMA and the Cooper-Hewitt have all begun acquiring bioplastics and are coming face to face with the reality of how to care for these materials.


While many studies have shown its suitability and efficacy as a cleaning material, agar is often seen as a temporary material, not something where longevity is desired. There is little research into the long-term stability of agar in its dried, non-rigid gel form. This research aims to evaluate the stability of contemporary art made from agar by examining the long-term effects of a typical museum environment (controlling temperature and relative humidity) on two different purities of agar, using accelerated aging and an array of analytical techniques. Building on the information learned from the aging study, the viability and application of agar as a fill material for the conservation of glass objects will be explored through hands-on experimentation and comparison with accepted conservation materials.

Katie Shulman is a 2nd-year graduate student at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, studying objects conservation with a strong interest in inorganic materials and decorative arts. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art conservation from Scripps College. Katie has held positions with several private practice conservators as well as at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the de Young Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

LEOcode and beyond: Applying New Tools for Watermark Studies to Leonardo da Vinci’s Papers and Blank Ledger Books
Abigail Slawik

New York University, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts

A variety of methods have been used to record and categorize watermarks, from rubbings, tracings, Beta radiographs, and transmitted light photography. One ultimate goal of inspecting watermarks in detail is establishing moldmate status between sheets---whether they were pulled from the same paper mold. This task is challenged by minute differences in imaging conditions: scale, lighting, and resolution. A new suite of software tools developed by William A. Sethares (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and C. Richard Johnson, Jr. (Cornell University), streamlines analyzing watermarks into a series of discrete processes, one of which produces an animated .GIF of aligned watermarks, fading from one to the other, allowing intuitive visible comparison. The author collaborated with Sethares, Johnson, Jr., and Margaret Holben Ellis (NYU) to produce an online compendium of moldmates found in Leonardo’s Codex Arundel (British Library MS 263) and Codex Leicester (Gates Collection). The website features the watermark types, their locations in the codices, and overlay animations that compare watermarks from different sheets. The goal is to provide a resource for scholars and caretakers of Leonardo’s papers across collections to submit watermark images for the compendium. The author’s application of the software to a blank ledger book of 18th-century French paper will also be demonstrated. The study consists of coding the complex watermarks and countermarks in the roughly 200 disbound, numbered folios, and establishing the number of moldmates, in addition to engaging in close-looking at examples of moldmates and twins in handmade paper.

Abigail Slawik is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow in Library and Archives Conservation and a candidate for an MS in Conservation and an MA in Art History (expected 2023) from the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She also holds a BFA in studio art (2008) from NYU. Since 2020, she has served as a graduate assistant for LEOcode, a working compendium of the watermarks found in Leonardo da Vinci's papers. Her research interests include 18th century albums of engravings, as well as the application of digital tools to the archaeology of the book.

Adhesives Testing on a Severely Delaminated Contemporary Oil Painting Containing Zinc: Conservation Treatment and Ethics

Rachel Stark

Queen's University Department of Art Conservation


The 1967 oil painting Nu Féminin, by Canadian artist Jori Smith, is a mid-century painting exhibiting severe deterioration, including overall delamination of the paint layers from the ground and support structure. Nu Féminin underwent extensive analysis to investigate the cause
of the damage. High levels of zinc found at the delamination interface as well as within the paint layers have been hypothesized as the leading cause of the deterioration. Zinc oxide, a white pigment, has been incorporated into oil paints since the 19th century, initially used in commercial applications followed by the adoption of zinc white into artists’ materials in the 1900s. Zinc oxide pigment in oil paints has been associated with the deterioration of paintings, with in-depth research conducted into the chemical and physical aging processes examining the pathways of damage. Conservation issues include the formation and effects of zinc soaps and the physical drying processes of zinc oxide in oil paint resulting in brittle paint films, which have raised questions regarding the efficacy and long-term effects of the most basic conservation treatments. This research examines the practical aspects of treating a fragile and delaminating paint film with zinc white deterioration, while also probing the ethical considerations a conservator must balance regarding intervention. In addition, the documented treatment of an oil painting with known zinc oxide content will add to the greater body of research on the long- and short-term effects of materials and methods relating to similar paint structures.

Rachel Stark obtained a BFA from OCAD University in 2008, majoring in studio art. She completed the Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program at Fleming College in 2015, with a focus on the conservation of organic objects. After working contracts across Canada and internationally, she made the switch into the conservation of paintings, and has appreciated the challenges and new conservation angles this has created.

The Accuracy of Wireless Sensor Tags in Measuring Light Intensity

Peiyuan Sun

New York University, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts


Light exposure of collections needs to be monitored to evaluate the risk of damage. New data loggers like Wireless Sensor Tags are useful tools for monitoring temperature, humidity, and light intensity because of their compact design and ease of use. In this study, the accuracy of two models of Wireless Sensor Tags (five of each) was compared to a reliable, recently calibrated “reference” light meter. While these Tags were found to read higher than the light meter, their readings can be improved by applying a “correction factor” to each model. With this informed data interpretation, their performance was found suitable for monitoring light in museums, especially for locations where fluctuating daylight needs to be assessed with multiple sensors or when cost and size of sensors is an issue.

Peiyuan Sun is a third-year student in objects conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She holds a BA in art history from NYU from 2018. She completed pre-program internships at The Jewish Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and Brooklyn Museum. Her areas of interest include ceramics, technical analysis, and environmental monitoring.

Modern Tradition: Chinese Paintings Conservation in Boston

Hsin-Chen Tsai

Cornelius Van der Starr Associate Conservator of Chinese Paintings, Asian Conservation, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Chinese paintings are usually painted on silk or paper. Because of the fragility of the painting support, a systematic restoration technique has been developed since the Jin Dynasty (266–420). In the traditional technique, lining and mounting plays an important role in the preserving of Chinese paintings. By mounting and remounting, some condition issues such as yellowing, stains, losses, creases and tears, can be addressed. Moreover, several mounting formats such as handscroll, hanging scroll, album, and flat mount…etc., have been developed from time to time for aesthetic and preservation purposes.

This presentation starts with an overview of the traditional Chinese painting restoration technique from a 17th century written reference, the Book of Mounting by Zhou Jiazhou (1582-1658) and other later references. Some projects conducted in the Asian Conservation Studio in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston follow as examples that illustrates how this traditional technique is adapted and modified in a modern museum such as the MFA. After understanding the past and using this technique in the present, a plan to look forward in this field in the US is concluded at the end of this presentation. ​

Hsin-Chen Tsai is currently the Cornelius Van der Starr Associate Conservator of Chinese Paintings in the Asian Conservation Studio at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2008, she received an MA in conservation from Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where she specialized in Asian paintings. Her previous experience includes the Sherman Fairchild Fellowship and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Asian Conservation Studio; an internship in the Asian paintings conservation studio at the National Palace Museum, Taipei; and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Effects of Fire and Heat on Interior Architectural Paint Finishes

Meghan Vonden Steinen

Columbia University, Historic Preservation Department


Research has been conducted on architectural elements damaged by fire (such as wood framing and masonry), and on fire damage to works of art, but few published works focus on interior finishes. It is not precisely known how heat from fire affects architectural finishes, more specifically historic paint. This presentation examines interior architectural paint finish samples that were taken from historic structures in the New York City area with a documented past of fires. Examination of the samples was performed using cross-sectional analysis to better understand how heat and fire-related heat have affected these samples. Further research was undertaken by analyzing additional samples of historic interior paint and subjecting them to varying temperatures, to observe how controlled high temperatures alter these finishes. The laboratory-tested samples were mounted and examined in cross-section to understand what happens to both oil-based and distemper paints as they are subjected to heat, and to compare them to the finishes sampled at fire-damaged properties.

Meghan Vonden Steinen is a graduate student in the historic preservation program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, with a concentration on architectural conservation. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2020 with a B.S. in Chemistry and minors in Art History and History. She currently serves as the AIC ECPN Graduate Liaison for Columbia’s historic preservation program. She looks forward to pursuing a career in conservation with a focus on architectural finishes.

In Search of a Consolidant Befitting Baleen: the Treatment of a Baleen Sled

Céline Wachsmuth

UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage


In addition to being used for transportation of people, sleds were used to move materials and goods in Alaska. We often picture wood sleds, as depicted in the classic animated film Balto but they can also be made of baleen. An early 20th-century baleen sled in the Anchorage Museum collection was identified as requiring cleaning. Upon closer inspection, areas of significant delamination became apparent. A variety of adhesives were selected based on those readily available in the lab and recommended from the limited research results. Initial findings led to modifying certain consolidants, while some were determined unsuitable for use. Further testing was undertaken to determine a proper course of treatment. The consolidants were tested in discrete areas on the baleen sled, in addition to the mock-up, to compare results on new baleen versus aged and used baleen. The comparison helped guide and influence the choice of consolidant for treatment.

Céline Wachsmuth is a student in the UCLA/Getty MA Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. This past summer and fall Céline spent four months interning at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska where she immersed herself in Native Alaskan material culture and her surroundings. She spent her spring break visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico to contextualize her thesis research on water based consolidants for treating low-fired ceramics through engaging in conversation with Pueblo potters and scholars.

The Journey of a French Conservation Student
Leslie Zacharie

Harvard University, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

In France, only four trainings offer the official diploma that allows one to work on national collections at museums. This paper will discuss France’s training particularities, content and duration, with a focus on The National Institute of Cultural Heritage (INP), an Institute that educates both curators and conservators. During five years of education, all French conservation students develop skills through theoretical classes, various workshops, manual training and internships. Moreover, each year the INP organizes training programs: weeks of training with specific objectives that students must achieve in-situ in French institutions and also abroad in places like China and Lebanon.


The second part of the talk will focus on a special project undertaken at the INP. In 2018, a training program organized in the Diplomatic Archives in Paris gave the Paper conservation students the opportunity to treat an unusual artwork that have seen six generations of paper conservation students to date. The almost 10-feet long Laotian painting made on western paper was a challenge. The artwork was laid onto canvas and left rolled-up for 100 years in storage, causing intensive mechanical damage to the paper and a severe curl deformation. After the canvas removal, it turned out that the painting was divided in three parts with numerous tears and extreme brittleness. The subsequent treatment was a team effort and aimed to remove the glue still present on the back of the painting and restore plasticity to the paper by cleaning it with large blocks of gellan gum.

Leslie Zacharie is currently an intern at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums. The six-month internship is part of her program at the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris (the National Institute of Cultural Heritage) and she will graduate in 2023 after five years at the Institute. She completed various internships at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Bonnat-Helleu Museum (Bayonne) and at private practice workshops. The conservation program also includes student group training in organizations such as the Louvre Museum (Paris), the Museum of Decorative Arts (Paris) and the Charfet Monastery (Dara’oun, Lebanon).

Who Are We
bottom of page