The Conservation Course Syllabus Pages

Course Material Science 2: Organic Materials (Wood, Leather)
Date offered Winter, 1999
Location Ontario, CA
Instructor Dr. Maja R. Solajic
Institution Sir Sandford Fleming College


Course Outline

Course Number: 1380203

Winter Semester, 1999

Sir Sandford Fleming College

Collections Conservation & Management Program

Centre for Community Development & Health

Hours: Fridays, 9-12 am

Course Format:

a) lecture - 1 hour 20 minutes

b) break - 10 minutes

c) laboratory - 1 hour 30 minutes

Faculty: Dr. Maja R.Solajic, Office # 371D
Office Hours: TBA
e-mail address:

Course Description:

Material Science II provides an introduction to organic materials in museum collections, including: wood, leather, skin, fur, bone, antler, horn, ivory, tortoise shell, feather and quills. The chemical composition, structure and deterioration as well as the applied decoration and finishes are elaborated. A variety of scientific techniques and conservation treatments are presented through lectures, practical experiments, applied projects and self-directed learning.


1380202, 1380207, 1380210, 1380213

Vocational Outcomes:

This course has been designed to comply with professional standards and ethics for practice as prescribed by I.I.C.-C.G. (C.A.C.), C.A.P.C., and I.C.O.M. committee for Professional Museum Training.

Generic Skills Outcomes:

As per Ministry of Education and Training Program Standards:

Math Skills:

Apply a wide variety of mathematical techniques with the degree of accuracy required to solve problems and make decisions.


Computer Literacy:

Interpersonal Skills:

Analytical Skills:

General Education Goal Area:



Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the course, the learner has reliably demonstrated the ability to:

1. comprehend and explain basic concepts and principles of organic chemistry and their application to the conservation and preservation of organic materials; understand the nomenclature and classification of organic compounds, structure and functional groups, covalent bonding, mechanisms and reactions such as: polymerization, oxidation, hydrolysis, denaturation, etc.

2. create scientific methodological framework in problem solving, report writing and literature search using current conservation research publications and information from manufacturers and suppliers.

3. utilize basic laboratory skills, practice and principles of safety and occupational health in the laboratory environment.

4. explain the chemical composition and characterize animal and plant fibres.

5. explain the properties, structure and conservation treatments for wood and leathercraft.

6. utilize the concept of freeze-drying method for treatment of archeological wood and leather.

7. explain the causes of deterioration of cellulosic and proteinaceous materials commonly found in museum collections

Learning Sequence:



Topic, Resources, Learning Activities Learning


Week 1


Lecture: Course Intro / Organic materials of museum objects: carbohydrates, proteins and resins

Resource: Ch. 6, 7, 8 (Mills)

1, 3  
  Lab: Lab safety, waste disposal, chemical hazards in conservation & report layout   Lab
Week 2


Lectur Lecture:: Basic organic chemistry: hydrocarbons and compounds with functional groups

Resour Resource: Ch. 13 (Oulette), Ch. 1 (Mills)

  Lab: Experiment 1 -- Solubilities of organic compounds 3 Pre-Lab/Lab
  Resource: hand-outs provided    
Week 3


Lectur Lecture: Basic organic chemistry: hydrocarbons and compounds with functional groups (cont.)

Resource: Ch.14 -1,2,3, 15.1,3; 16 -1,2,3;4; 17-1,2,3; 18-1,2; 19 -- 1, 3, (Oulette);

  Lab: Experiment 2 -- Chemical characterization tests 1

Resource: hand-outs provided

3 Pre-Lab/Lab
Week 4


Lecture: Chemistry of natural polymers: carbohydrates and proteins


1, 4 Assignment 1 Due
  Lab: Experiment 3 -- Chemical characterization tests 2 3 Pre-lab/Lab
  Resource: hand-outs provided    
Week 5


Lecture: Wood: structure/anatomy

Resource: Ch. 19 (Kühn)

4, 5  
  Lab: Experiment 4 -- Microscopic structure, cross

sections and identification of

3 Pre-lab/Lab

Resource: hand-outs provided

Week 6


Lecture: Wood: physical and chemical properties, degradation

Resource: Ch. 19 (Kühn);

4, 5  
  Lab: Experiment 5 - Swelling and shrinkage of wood

Resource: hand-outs provided

3 Pre-lab/Lab
Week 7


Lecture: Coatings and related wood finishes

Resource: Ch.16 (Kühn)

Lab: Wood study group project: Comparative study of wood conservation treatments (oral presentation)


5, 6


Assignment 2 Due
Week 8

March 5

Independent Study Week    
Week 9

March 12



  Midterm test

Value: 15%

Week 10

March 19

Lecture: Leather: structure/anatomy, physical and chemical properties

Resource: Ch.20, (Kühn)

4, 5  
  Lab: Leather study group project: Research in 1990's: determination of hydrotermal stability of leather 2  
Week 11

March 26

Lecture: Leather: deterioration

Resource: Ch.20 (Kühn)

Lab: Leather study group project (presentation)

4, 5, 7


Assignment 3 Due
Week 12

April 2

Good Friday    
Week 13

April 9

Lecture: Leather-related proteinaceous materials:

properties, degradation

Resource: 13, 17 (Kühn)

  Lab: Tutorial    
Week 14

April 16

FINAL TEST   Final Test

Value 25%

Week 15

April 23

Term review, test results

Lab clean-up


Learning Resources:

Required Materials:

R.J. Ouellette Introduction to General, Organic and Biological Chemistry 4th ed. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey 1997.

Additional Materials for Reference:

J.S. Mills, R.White The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects 2nd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, London 1994.

H. Kühn Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities Butterworths, London 1986.

J.M. Cronyn The Elements of Archaeological Conservation Routledge, London 1990.

H. Hodges Artifacts, An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands N.J. 1981.

Crafts Council (Corporate Author) Science for Conservators
Volume 1: an introduction to materials
Volume 2: cleaning
Volume 3: adhesives and coatings
Museums and Galleries Commission, London 1992.

Molecular Model Kit

Assessment Plan:

Assessment Individual Mark Total Mark
Written assignments (total of 3) 9% each 27%
Pre-labs/Labs (total of 5) 5% each 25%
Study group project (oral presentations, total of 2) 4 % each 8%
Midterm Test (March 12)   15%
Final Test (April 16)   25%

PLA options and contact for this course:

Contact Gayle McIntyre

Academic Responsibilities:

1. Course Policies

2. Presentation

Written assignments must be:

3. Re-writes

Faculty may request a re-write of a submission if the criteria for assessment have not been met. Late penalties will apply if the assignment is not re-submitted the following day.

4. Penalties for Late Submissions

Completion of Term Work

All assignments must be completed in order for students to achieve a passing grade.

Late Assignments

Late assignments receive the following penalty:

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations and/or practical test or projects for evaluation must be delivered on the day scheduled. A "no-show" will be graded at zero, unless adequate explanation is provided.

5. Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic integrity and the college has a strict policy on this issue (see Academic Regulations).

6. Make-up Tests

In valid circumstances (ill-health, personal crisis), a student may be given a make-up test to compensate for one missed in class-time. Students must contact the instructor within seven days of the original test in order to request a make-up.

7. Extensions & GDFS

8. Site Work

Students must agree to work within the parameters of the guidelines established for site work.

Failure to comply may result in the termination of project and suspension of the privilege of access.

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