2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Penn Museum’s Conservation Department, which was founded in 1966 through the efforts and generous support of the Museum’s Women’s Committee. It is thought to be the first archaeology and anthropology museum conservation lab in the United States to be staffed by professional conservators.
Views of the Conservation Lab ca. 1968
To commemorate the establishment of the department, we are hosting a symposium from October 6-8, 2016: “Engaging Conservation: Collaboration Across Disciplines.” The Symposium will feature 31 paper presentations by conservators, archaeologists, anthropologists, and specialists in related fields, which will address topics related to the conservation of archaeological and anthropological materials and the development of cross-disciplinary engagement over the past half century. In addition to these presentations, there will be an evening keynote address by Dr. Brian Rose, Director of the Museum’s Gordion Archaeological Project in Turkey. The full schedule and abstracts can be found on the symposium website by following this link:
Engaging Conservation: Collaboration Across Disciplines
Views of the Conservation Lab ca. 2016
We look forward to seeing some of you in Philadelphia in October for this event!
This week, I just have a quick “tip” to offer. A lot of the work that we do in the Artifact Lab involves repairing very fragile organic material and consolidating delicate painted surfaces, and these treatments often rely on the use of adhesives that take awhile to fully set (dry).
To ensure that the areas that we glue together set in just the right position, we rely on the use of gentle finger pressure while the adhesive dries. But instead of sitting there with our finger on an artifact for minutes, if not hours (totally impractical), the finger pressure we apply doesn’t involve our hands at all!
Let me introduce to you the finger weight:
2 finger weights applying gentle pressure to the painted surface of a cartonnage pectoral
These little weights are made by snipping off the fingers of nitrile gloves, filling them with the material of your choice (sand, glass microbeads), and then tying off the open ends with a small piece of thread. In our field, we use a wide variety of weights and clamps, many of them fancy and custom-made, but these simple, cheap finger weights are often just the ticket when it comes to finding the right amount of weight and pressure for a fragile, delicate surface or mend.
I can’t take any credit for these – I’m sure many conservators use them, but I was introduced to them by my colleague Alexis North, who has been making them for use in the Artifact Lab. Now she is going to know who is stealing all of the wonderful little weights she makes!