The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 7
Oct 1987


The Queen's University Program in Book & Paper Conservation

In 1985, a formal training program in the conservation of "Paper Objects" (books, documents, art on paper) was opened at Queens University in Canada, where museum conservators and scientists have received training since 1974 in the University's Art Conservation Program. Like the other students there, the students in Paper Objects will receive the degree of Master of Art Conservation (MAC).

Studies in Paper Objects are directed toward the history, structure, character, technology, examination, deterioration, and conservation of the wide variety of media found in archives, research libraries, and paper-supported items in museums and art galleries. Primarily, this covers such diverse materials as manuscripts, prints, drawings, maps, books, pamphlets and watercolors. Also discussed are topics relating to microfilm, photographs, sound recording media, photocopies, and newspapers.

The Program is intended to be as broadly based as possible, in order to develop the students' knowledge of the many aspects in the conservation of cultural property. In addition, the aim is to provide the students with the necessary background to embark upon a professional career in conservation. The graduates of the Paper Objects Stream in the Fine Arts concentration are able to make a strong contribution to art galleries, research libraries, or archives, addressing the varying nature of the conservation programs found therein. Among these areas are: conservation laboratory treatments, conservation management, format alternatives, condition reporting, collection surveys, library binding, storage, environment, protective enclosures, collection preservation, examination, and display.

Individual paper objects are examined and studied as well as the relationships among the various object types within the collecting organizations. Treatments vary from those appropriate for unique art objects to processes suitable to collections preserved solely for their intellectual content. Methodologies presented are applicable to preservation, examination and treatment of the objects and collections within each organization type.

The two-year program involves faculty and guest lectures, studio practice, student-led seminars, on-site visits, a research project, and two summer internships. All students take a series of core courses beginning with a survey course which covers the three treatment Streams (Fine Art, Conservation of Artifacts, and Scientific Research), and continuing into microscopy, photographic documentation, properties of materials, conservation principles, and instrumental analysis. Commencing in the second term, specific Paper Object lectures, offered over three terms, deal with archival materials, library materials, and art on paper. The supervised laboratory/studio courses involve hands-on treatment. The first term introduces examination, documentation, basic paper repair, bookbinding, pH measurement, paper washing, book repair, and deacidification. Subsequent terms address examination and treatment appropriate to each media type, including: prints, drawings, watercolors, archival documents, and leather bookbindings.

Summer internships take place in an approved conservation division of a collecting organization or with an approved conservator by the mutual consent of the student, the organization, and the Program. In addition, each student completes an in-depth study of two topics, compiling material for presentation in the seminars. During the second year of studies a research project is undertaken, culminating in a written report.

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet certain minimum requirements, including an honors undergraduate degree with upper second class standing. A full course in first-year university chemistry, one term of organic chemistry, and five courses relevant to the area of specialization are required. Practical work experience, of either a curatorial or conservation nature, with cultural property collections in a related area, is recommended. Individual courses or a degree in art history, history, archival science, museology, library science, or fine art are considered advantageous.

Demonstrable hand skills are essential. A minimum of two studio or workshop courses are prerequisite to the Paper Objects concentration. These may include print making, cartography, bookbinding, printing, picture framing, conservation technology, drawing, watercolor painting, papermaking, photography, and calligraphy. Applicants will be required to present a portfolio, representative of the above skills, during a personal interview with the faculty.

It is suggested that potential applicants contact the Program for academic advice, well before applying for admission. The deadline for applications is the end of February for entrance to the academic year commencing in September. Additional information concerning the Program may be obtained by writing to The Art Conservation Program, Queen' s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.

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