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Inside the Collections Care Project: Making it stick

Jan 4, 2016

As part of the Collections Care Project, Historic New England staff inspected, catalogued, cleaned, and packed thousands of objects to prepare them to move into our new collections storage space. During this massive undertaking, we found a few objects in pieces or with a few detached fragments. We brought these to our conservation lab for repair.

Our conservation team performed simple repairs to ceramic and glass objects with the goal of making them whole again before they returned to storage. This turned out to be a great opportunity for training our pre-program interns, who are working to obtain the requirements necessary for admission to a graduate program in conservation. One of the requirements is getting hands-on experience in a conservation lab.

The interns tried methods of removing failed adhesive, such as soaking, solvents, and steam. They learned about different conservation-grade adhesives and clamping methods in order to re-join and re-adhere fragments according to best practices in the conservation field.

Learning how to choose, prepare, and apply repair materials is important to any museum conservator’s development. It involves both critical thinking and hand skills in application. Practice, trial and error, and more practice are essential. Fortunately, the amount of ceramics and glass to be repaired provided plenty of opportunity for our interns to learn.

Help support the conservation of Historic New England’s vast collection of New England artifacts with a donation to the Collections and Conservation Fund.