Ein Wintermärchen (a winter story) is a children’s book from our Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library. The library holds an extensive collection of children’s books, around 2,000, with 1,200 being pop-up books. This particular volume came to the Book Conservation Lab through the Adopt-A-Book program. The book is lavishly illustrated by Ernst Kreidolf, a well-known Swiss children’s book illustrator. Many of his books depict fairies and other mythical creatures, more »
When Smithsonian Libraries’ material is placed on exhibition, all selected objects are reviewed for display. In some cases, conservation treatment is required in order to make it possible for a book to be opened and pages turned without damaging the structure. Other factors such as conditions for temperature, relative humidity, and light levels in the exhibition gallery are reviewed before allowing items to be exhibited for any length of time. The Dibner more »
The conservation of special collections materials is rarely a straightforward endeavor. It’s important to treat each item as a unique object, and to let its particular history and condition drive the decision-making process. Often, the path forward is only revealed once treatment begins, as the conservator becomes more and more familiar with the book, sometimes through research and analysis, but often simply by observing and handling the book over a period of more »
On September 9-11th, Smithsonian Libraries hosted the workshop: “Using Pigment-toned Paper Pulp to Create Flawless Fills for Works of Art on Paper and Archival Material,” instructed by Margo McFarland-Rothschild, who has taught these techniques previously at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies and has her own conservation and consulting practice in the Chicago area. At Smithsonian Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab participants prepared and pigmented paper pulp to use in concert with more »
Numerous pamphlets, catalogues, and paperbound materials contribute to the vast general collections held within the Smithsonian Libraries. Many of these fragile items were carefully treated by past Preservation Services staff using approaches similar to those we currently employ.
As a book conservator for the Smithsonian Libraries I’ve been given ample opportunity to expand my knowledge through workshops, seminars and professional meetings. One of the most interesting opportunities I’ve recently had was to attend a week long workshop, “Understanding Leather: From Tannery to Collection,” in Northampton, England. The workshop was held at the Leather Conservation Centre, an international center for leather conservation and research, on the campus of the University of Northampton. The course more »
When a book arrives in the Conservation Lab the first order of business is often detective work. The binding is examined to determine if it is original to the book, the paper is analyzed for clues to its origin, and scraps of paper or other ephemera enlighten us as to the provenance of the book. Recently, a particularly intriguing volume, Botanicon, came to us from the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.
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