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Paper Conservation

Paper Conservation

The Paper Conservation Department is dedicated to the preservation, technical analysis, and research of works of art on paper, parchment, and related materials from all periods and cultures held in the Museum's vast collections so that they may be made available for exhibition, education, scholarship, and study.

Now at the Met

L'Estampe Originale: A Rare Print Portfolio Now Online

Britany Salsbury, Former Research Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints; and Lisa Conte, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015

During its two-year print run, the print portfolio L'Estampe Originale (1893–95) brought together the most sophisticated developments in printmaking by a range of vanguard artists. The Met's unique, complete edition of the prints was recently digitized and is now available for consultation online.

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Now at the Met

Guns, Paper, and Stains: Preserving History through Interdepartmental Collaboration

Angela Campbell, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015

Included in the Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 2003–2014 exhibition, curated by Donald J. La Rocca and currently on display in the galleries of the Department of Arms and Armor though December 6, are several printed designs associated with ornamental firearms. Upon acquisition, two of these prints—the decorative title page from the album Plusieurs Piéces et Ornements Darquebuzerie, acquired in 2011, and a design for the stock of a musket from the Nouveaux Desseins D'Arquebuseries De Lacollombe, acquired in 2013—appeared similarly stained and damaged, but underwent distinctly different conservation campaigns. The two prints, as well as all of the other works on paper currently on display, will be on view through March 2015, due to their preservation needs.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Conservation Concerns: The Care of Medieval Manuscripts

Yana van Dyke, Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The most common conservation issue related to the care and preservation of medieval manuscripts—such as the pages from the Winchester Bible, on view in the exhibition The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art through March 8—is the loss of cohesion in the paint layer. Most often, flaking paint is due to the dehydration of the binding vehicle used in the original mixing of the paint.

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Now at the Met

Filling In History: Conserving Fifteenth-Century Tibetan Initiation Cards, Continued

Rebecca Capua, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015

In the course of conserving a group of twenty-five Tibetan initiation cards currently on view in Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, the second phase of treatment—performed after media consolidation—concerned compensating losses. All of the cards were damaged along their top edges from a combination of mold deterioration of the multilayered support and the handling received during their past lives as functional objects. While some of the cards were only missing parts of the top red margins, others had losses that extended well into the image area.

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Now at the Met

Eastern Religion Meets Western Science: Conserving Fifteenth-Century Tibetan Initiation Cards

Angela Campbell, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Monday, January 5, 2015

In 2000, The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a complete set of twenty-five early fifteenth-century Tibetan initiation cards (tsakalis), which are currently on display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, on view through June 14, 2015. When these cards were received, the majority of them showed noteworthy damage which was most easily visible along the top edges of the cards. Under microscopic examination, however, it became apparent that the delicate paint layer—composed primarily of natural pigments in a natural gum binder—was also markedly damaged and, in some areas, detaching from the paper support. In the magnified image shown below, the fibrous paper support can be seen under the cracked and lifting paint layer.

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Grand Design Exhibition Blog

Four Drawings by Coecke: Before and After

Stijn Alsteens, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Working on a major exhibition can feel like cooking a very elaborate meal: the preparation takes much longer than the actual event. Many of these preparations—especially conservation efforts—go unnoticed, although the result is there for any visitor to the show to see. While working on Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, I felt that four of the drawings selected for the show would benefit from conservation treatment before going on view in our galleries. Because none of these sheets is owned by the Metropolitan Museum, I had to rely on the willingness of curators and conservators abroad, as well as that of a private collector in New York, to consider my request.

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In Circulation

The Art of Japanese Books

Mindell Dubansky, Preservation Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Earlier this month, the Thomas J. Watson Library sponsored two events devoted to the scholarship of Japanese books of the Edo period. These events were developed to create an environment of collegial collaboration surrounding the subject of Japanese books and to celebrate the Museum's acquisition of the Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, a group of over 250 ehon (illustrated books) from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

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In Circulation

"Pre-Coated Repair Materials": A Book-Conservation Workshop

Mindell Dubansky, Preservation Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Sherman Fairchild Center for Book Conservation in Watson Library recently hosted a hands-on workshop taught by Sarah Reidell—conservator of rare books, paper, and parchment at the New York Public Library's Barbara Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory—entitled "Pre-Coated Repair Materials." This intermediate-level program was developed for conservators and advanced technicians with a thorough knowledge of common repair techniques for paper and parchment conservation. The workshop included training in the preparation of toned and untoned water-, solvent-, and heat-reactivated, pre-coated repair materials used for the conservation and stabilization of book and paper artifacts. During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to experiment on sample materials and to create comparative sample sets for future reference.

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Now at the Met

The Rise of Pastel in the Eighteenth Century

Marjorie Shelley, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photograph Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The current exhibition Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe opens a window on one of the most popular art forms of the Rococo and Enlightenment eras. These works slipped from public notice long ago as they became associated with the artificiality of the ancien régime, and in modern times because their fragility discouraged exhibition and travel. This is the first exhibition of such portraits in at least seventy-five years. It presents a sense of the great numbers of artists who practiced in this once popular medium, the many different styles in which they worked, and the materials and techniques they employed.

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Now at the Met

The Gilliéron Paintings on Paper, from a Conservation Perspective

Rebecca Capua, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Many of the works on paper currently on view in Historic Images of the Greek Bronze Age: The Reproductions of E. Gilliéron & Son required conservation treatment to address a variety of structural and aesthetic problems. The dedicated effort over the past two years to address the conservation of these objects and to look more closely at their method of production reflects a reconsideration of their role in the Museum and in the history of art itself.

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