Eight Le Chic fashion magazines are currently patients in the Book Conservation Lab. The magazines came to us from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library. They date from the early 20th century and were published in Vienna, Austria. The fashions are reminiscent of the costumes seen in Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge!
April 21-27 is Preservation Week! Preservation Week was created by the American Libraries Association to bring attention to preservation matters in libraries and to help the public maintain their own collections. In honor of this event, we will be featuring preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. We encourage you to join the conversation! And if you’re in the DC area, check out our free event on Wednesday, April 24th! The Conservation Lab received a very interesting patient from the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library recently. The book is “Andy Warhol’s Index Book” designed by the artist in the 1960′s experimenting with the idea of the book as a work of art.
The conservation lab received, from the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library, a first edition of the first Bauhaus exhibition catalog: Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar, 1919-1923. In addition to being a rare copy of this catalog, it is inscribed to the painter Werner Drewes by his Bauhaus teacher, Wassily Kandinsky. The book was in disrepair with the covers detached. A spine “replacement” fashioned out of a piece of electrical tape had left tape residue on the Herbert Bayer designed cover. Additionally, the paper used for the catalog was highly acidic and discolored and the acidic clay coated plates were chipping.
What is a full treatment exactly, in book preservation terms? A full treatment entails the dis-binding, washing, drying, re-sewing and re-casing of a book. In the case of Exploration Scientifique de L’Algérie, the book came to us from the Cullman Rare Book Library because it had previously been damaged by water and mold. In order to clean, flatten and remove the mold from the book, we needed to take it apart section by section, page by page.
A constant challenge in the Book Conservation Lab is housing items of disparate sizes together. Recently we faced this issue in re-housing the pamphlet “Instructions in Reference to Collecting Nests and Eggs of North American Birds.” The pamphlet came to us in pieces in an envelope bearing the name of former Secretary of the Smithsonian, Alexander Wetmore.