The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 3

Some Papers Given at AIC 2000

The American Institute for Conservation held its annual meeting in Philadelphia on June 8-13. There were more sessions and special meetings there than any one person could attend, so what follows is only a selection from the abstracts in the preprints.

Book and Paper Group Session:

Seven papers dealt with conservation and preservation in other countries, reported by people who had provided technical and educational assistance in Cuba, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Israel, Uganda, South Africa and India. Amparo de Torres described the Association for the Conservation of the Cultural Patrimony of the Americas (APOYO), and Friederike Zimmern of Harvard coauthored a description of two projects at the Academy of Art and Design Stuttgart: a new board slotting machine and sound board reattaching system, and development of an improved alpha amylase poulticing system for removal of old dried starch paste.

Other noteworthy papers in the Book and Paper Group sessions were:

Paper Splitting: A Paper Strengthening Process, by Jana Dambrogio and Irene Brückle
Industrial Hubris: A Revisionist History of the Papermaking Machine, by John Bidwell
Fungal Deterioration of 18th and 19th Century Documents: A Case Study... by Hanna Szczepanowska
Fungal Spots in a Book Dated 1854... by Mary-Lou Florian. Foxing spots were analyzed to identify the mold species involved. Two species of the Aspergillus glauca group dominated, one on top of the ink, one under it.
Washing and Humidifying Iron Gall Ink on Paper: Effects on Iron Migration, by Elmer Eusman. Fe(II) can accelerate the oxidative breakdown of cellulose. It is highly water soluble and the cause of serious destruction. Han Neevel has developed a Fe(II) indicator test. Humidification of the samples caused migration of the iron to different extents depending on the type of iron gall ink.

The following selected papers are listed under the session in which they were presented:

Presession on Lasers in Conservation:

Twelve researchers from four European countries reported on a project underway to develop a prototype laser cleaning system for flexible paper and parchment cleaning. So far they have found that Nd:YAG processing at 532 nm resulted in no detectable chemical changes at fluences below 1 Jcm-2.

John Asmus reported on "Thirty Years of Lasers in Conservation."

General Session on Preservation of Electronic Media:

Jeff Rothenberg, in his paper, "Digital Information Lasts Forever—or 500 Years, Whichever Comes First," emphasized the fragility of electronic data, as he did five years ago in the Scientific American, and described the one solution that might work if it is tried: emulation (the method developers use to make new software compatible with earlier versions).

Four staff members of the Image Permanence Institute described a computerized information system to automate the interpretation and documentation of collection storage conditions. It gives temperature and humidity limits and other data for each type of object in the collection, with pictures and data analysis, and can be viewed on the web site by anyone who wants information on storage conditions. They also described their advanced datalogger called the Preservation Environment Monitor. It uses software called Climate Notebook, which includes two algorithms: TWPI analysis and Mold Risk analysis. The second algorithm warns conservators of impending mold outbreaks.

Objects Session:

Toby Raphael and Martin Burke's paper "Conflict Resolution: Narrowing the Gap between Museum Exhibition and Conservation" described the conflict in the museum world between "preservation" and "use," which is the same sort of conflict seen in the library and archive world.

The National Park Service worked on a major preventive conservation project for three years, using an interdisciplinary approach, to resolve the exhibition dilemma. It has completed the first of three phases of the project: "Exhibit Conservation Guidelines: Incorporating Conservation into Exhibit Planning, Design and Production," which presents a variety of principles and techniques showing how conservation criteria can be met in exhibits.

Photographic Materials Session:

Doug Nishimura reviewed the ten chemical treatments for black-and-white photographs that were the topic of Jose Orraca's 1999 workshop. He focused on the two most successful treatments, the C. Fischer formula and Edith Weyde's iodine-alcohol method.

Wooden Artifacts Session:

William P. Lull spoke on an economical and reliable method of environmental control for the buildings in which Stony Brook's carriage collection is stored. It uses no heating, cooling, dehumidification or humidification, but uses computer-controlled ventilation systems that filter the air and admit outside air when appropriate. If inside air is better than outside air, the ventilation system just recirculates inside air, to control mold growth. Hygrothermograph records show a good record of environmental control for these artifacts, and the collection itself is staying in good condition.

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