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Subject: Online class on care of leather

Online class on care of leather

From: Helen Alten <helen<-at->
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
MS224: Care of Leather and Skin Materials
Instructor: Helen Alten
Apr 1 - May 10, 2013
Location: online at <URL:>

Description: Prior to the invention of plastics, skin materials were
the flexible covering used for most objects--from bellows to books,
carriages to desktops. Furs and skins are in almost every museum's
collection, be it Natural History, History or Art. Caring for
leather and skin materials demands an understanding of how and why
they deteriorate. Care of Leather and Skin Materials offers a
simplified explanation of the origin, chemistry and structure of
leathers and skins. Students learn to identify leathers and surface
finishes, determine their extent of deterioration, write condition
reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful
to leather and skins both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include
preparing hide and skin materials for storage and exhibit, the use
of archival materials and which ones might harm skin proteins,
housekeeping techniques for large objects or books on open display,
and three-dimensional supports for leather and skin to keep them
from distorting. Integrated pest management and historical
treatments will be covered, with a unit on hazardous materials
applied to older skins and leather that might prove a danger to

Logistics: Participants in Care of Leather and Skin work through
sections on their own. Materials and resources include online
literature, slide lectures and dialog between students and the
instructor through online forums.

Care of Leather and Skin runs four weeks. To learn more about the
course and reserve a spot go to
If you have trouble please contact Helen Alten at

The Instructor:

    Helen Alten, is the Director of Northern States Conservation
    Center and its chief Objects Conservator. For nearly 30 years
    she has been involved in objects conservation, starting as a
    pre-program intern at the Oriental Institute in Chicago and the
    University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. She
    completed a degree in Archaeological Conservation and Materials
    Science from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of
    London in England. She has built and run conservation
    laboratories in Bulgaria, Montana, Greece, Alaska and Minnesota.
    She has a broad understanding of three-dimensional materials and
    their deterioration, wrote and edited the quarterly Collections
    Caretaker, maintains the popular
    <URL:> web site, lectures
    throughout the United States on collection care topics, was
    instrumental in developing a state-wide protocol for disaster
    response in small Minnesota museums, has written, received and
    reviewed grants for NEH and IMLS, worked with local foundations
    funding one of her pilot programs, and is always in search of
    the perfect museum mannequin. She has published chapters on
    conservation and deterioration of archeological glass with the
    Materials Research Society and the York Archaeological Trust,
    four chapters on different mannequin construction techniques in
    Museum Mannequins: A Guide for Creating the Perfect Fit (2002),
    preservation planning, policies, forms and procedures needed for
    a small museum in The Minnesota Alliance of Local History
    Museums' Collection Initiative Manual, and is co-editor of the
    penultimate book on numbering museum collections (still in
    process) by the Gilcrease Museum in Oklahoma. Helen Alten has
    been a Field Education Director, Conservator, and staff trainer.
    She began working with people from small, rural, and tribal
    museums while as the state conservator for Montana and Alaska.
    Helen currently conducts conservation treatments and operates a
    conservation center in Charleston, WV and St. Paul, MN.

Brad Bredehoft for Helen Alten
Northern States Conservation Center

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:41
                  Distributed: Friday, March 15, 2013
                       Message Id: cdl-26-41-013
Received on Wednesday, 13 March, 2013

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