The Graphics Conservation Laboratory is no longer in operation. The information included on this site is for historical purposes only. We now only have a Book Conservation Unit and a Photograph & Paper Conservation Unit, both of which are house in B31-B32 Olin Library.
The Graphics Conservation Laboratory was established in 1987, initially providing for the care and conservation of works on paper from the Cornell University Library’s Asia Collections, and from its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Consulting and project-based conservation were carried out by the Laboratory for other Departments of the University including the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Technical analysis of paper and image medium was executed in situ, as well as at the Materials Science Center, the Textile and Apparel Department, and other University laboratories.
Reflecting the primary mission of the University at that time, the laboratory’s focus is on education and promoting the knowledge of the preservation of historic and artistic works. Training and independent study in preservation is open to the undergraduate and graduate students of the College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University. Students, guided by our then Paper Conservator, and project faculty were engaged in the research of artists’ materials and methods, and practical preventive care.
The pre-conservation internship/study program was funded by Seymour R. Askin Jr. The program brought enthusiastic and deeply committed students to the Laboratory to study the preservation of works on paper. Among the Laboratory’s former interns/students are Cornelia Raugh-Ernst, a Masters Graduate of Fine Art Conservation from the Stuttgart University Conservation Program in Germany, and Matt Hays, a Masters Graduate of Fine Art Conservation from NYU.
Due to budget restraints initiated by the economy, the program has since been discontinued.
In 2001, the Graphics Conservation Laboratory received funding from the Paul Getty Grant Program to support the Getty Postgraduate Fellowship in Paper Conservation. The two-year fellowship (2001-2003) provided stipends for two recent graduates for advanced study in conservation techniques, research, and analysis. Claire McBride, and Hyejung Yum, Master Graduates of Fine Art Conservation from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, U.K. were each awarded for one-year fellowships at the Laboratory (see our Publications for details).
Throughout the years, several professional courses and workshops organized the Paper Conservator brought mid-career conservators from the United States and Canada to Cornell. Among such courses/workshops are the following:
- Microscopy for Art Conservators, taught by Professor Walter McCrone, McCrone Research Institute of Chicago, 1997.
- A New Way of Looking at Pulping/Small Laboratory Practices, taught by Senior Lecturer Jane Colbourne, Conservation of Fine Art Program, University of Northumbria, U.K., 2002.
- Japanese Bookbinding Techniques, taught by Josèe Van Loon, Permanent Education Centre, Ghent, Belgium, 1992.
In 2005-2006, the Department was awarded a grant by the American Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to further promote preservation in the United States. As a part of this program, the interns spent one week at the lab learning about structural composition and methods for preventive care of works on paper.
The Laboratory staff members gave lectures and tours on specific topics, advice contemporary artists on historic and modern materials and methods, and provided analysis of works on paper upon request.
The following images are from the Tell-tale Godwit or Snipe print (Plate # 308) of the original double-elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s BIRDS OF AMERICA. The colored print is from the collection of the Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.
The Graphics Conservation Laboratory was supported by funds from the State of New York, Mr. Seymour R. Askin Jr., and The Getty Grant Program (2001-03).
- Development of the Fish Gelatin Formula, an adhesive and a consolidant for painting conservators and artists, 1988-89 (Prof. Joe Regenstein, Cornell University Department of Food Science, and Tatyana Petukhova).
Preliminary Study of the Prevention and Treatment of Fungi on Paper Products, 1992-93 (Prof. C. J. K. Wang, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Tatyana Petukhova).
- 'A Paper Conservation Photomicrographic Atlas of Pigments & Fibers', 2002, the research paper of Claire McBride, the Getty Postgraduate Fellow.
Includes Western & Eastern sub-sections. The resulting document will function as both an atlas and a dictionary. Combines art historical and scientific information, and photomicrographs in one accessible document.
- Traditional Korean Papermaking: Analytical Examination of Historic Korean Papers and Research into History, Materials and Techniques of Traditional Papermaking of Korea, 2003, the research paper of Hyejung Yum, the Getty Postgraduate Fellow.
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