Students & Emerging Conservators: recent internship stories

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Example of a custom-made Plastozote base with cutting tool. Images courtesy of Leah Humenuck.

We’ve been gathering recent internship reports and stories from students and emerging conservators. The quality and diversity of these projects is inspiring; it is clear these students are developing valuable problem-solving and hand skills that will intrigue even the most seasoned of conservation professionals. Many thanks to the students and emerging conservators who responded to our call, and to everyone else, enjoy!

GRADUATE INTERNSHIP AT WEST DEAN: THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY AND CLARITY

By Leah Humenuck

My name is Leah Humenuck, and I am a recent graduate from West Dean College Arts and Conservation School of Conservation (UK) where I specialized in books and library materials. During the final year of study at West Dean, students are encouraged to engage in an internship. I participated in two internships, one of which was in an unexpected place for me, West Dean itself.

West Dean has a long history and is even mentioned in the Domesday Book. The College has formed a lasting legacy for the arts, crafts and conservation thanks to the efforts of Edward James, a poet and patron of the surrealist movement. The estate is grand in every aspect from the award-winning, sprawling gardens to the interior of the main house which seems almost as vast as the gardens.

In my previous experience with internships, I worked on focused tasks which were usually situated within institutions specifically built for housing art and historic objects. While these past internships covered a range of experiences (from maritime archaeology to late 19th-century photo albums), I had no idea the different types of tasks, the range of objects and the many hats I would wear as an intern for a historic home. The two most useful skills I came away with were 1) inventiveness with resources and 2) different pathways for clear communication. I would like to highlight three projects that displayed these skills: packing two doll houses, creating a dust monitoring program and assembling a salvage trailer...

(for the full article see: Issue 75 "News in Conservation" December 2019, p. 32)

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INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT AT THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND

By Joseph Jackson

As part of my yearlong internship as a preventive conservator at the National Library of Scotland (NLS), I have begun to review the organisation’s Integrated Pest Management scheme (IPM). So far this has been a great opportunity to implement my own ideas into the Library’s policies surrounding pest management.

In the past the main focus has been on the George IV site. However, the Library also encompasses the Causewayside and the still relatively new Kelvin Hall sites which all have their own specific issues in relation to pests. It is my task to evaluate effective methods for the monitoring and recording of pests for all NLS buildings, whilst utilising assets which previously have not been standardised across all sites. One method I wish to implement is a training session with Library staff including security, cleaning staff and book fetchers in order to demonstrate the use of a simple pest recording form stored on the Library hard drive; this would act as a second set of eyes in regards to the monitoring of pest activity across all the Library sites.

Trap readings from 2017 at Causewayside show a considerable number of differing species, largely consisting of spiders, leading me to believe that there is a large quantity of food present to support such a number of spiders. There have been reports of a significant number of cluster flies in stack floors (often only discovered after dying).

It may be beneficial to place traps in the void underneath the floor tiles to provide insight into any pests which may thrive there, and while these insects may not pose a direct threat to collections, they could propagate further life which frequents the space between the void and the stack floor. The service corridors which contain water from the aquifer may also serve as points of entry for pests, therefore steps should be taken to first monitor any potential ingress and put in place any necessary preventive measures....

(for the full article see: Issue 75 "News in Conservation" December 2019, p. 35)

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PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION AT ENGLISH HERITAGE
 
By Melissa King
 
For part of my third year as a preventive conservation graduate student at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), I had the great fortune of spending three months at English Heritage in London. I was working specifically in conservation science with Dr. David Thickett and Dr. Naomi Luxford. Preventive conservation is a new major at WUDPAC. While there are many people specializing in preventive conservation in the USA, it is far more established as a major course of study in the U.K. The scientists at English Heritage are well known for their research in preventive conservation, and I was eager to work closely with them.
 
English Heritage is a charitable trust responsible for the care of over 400 historic monuments, buildings, and palaces. These locations range from the world-famous Stonehenge to Eltham Palace, a 1930s Art Deco-revived 14th-century palace. I worked specifically at Ranger’s House within conservation science, which supports the collections conservation team by offering analysis and research into preventive conservation questions.

I was tasked with a specific research project that would offer the scientists a resource for developing better showcase designs. In order to understand the need for this research, I visited many different sites around the country to see multiple stages of showcase design, installation, and the methods for monitoring the environment within showcases. The locations were spread across the country from as far north as Yorkshire to the southern points of Dover, Kent, and Falmouth, Cornwall. The purpose of this travel was to also introduce me more generally to the work completed by the scientists and the management of environmental sensors. I also participated in organization-wide collections meetings, assisted in integrated pest management tasks, witnessed an exhibition planning meeting for a property, and joined a symposium with conservation staff from both English Heritage and the National Trust...

(for the full article see: Issue 75 "News in Conservation" December 2019, p. 36)

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DOCTORAL RESEARCH ON THE CONSERVATION OF METALS

By María Teresa Molina Delgado

I finished a bachelor’s degree in conservation a few years ago in Granada, Spain and am currently living in Madrid, Spain. Last June I started a Ph.D. in heritage science thanks to a fellowship funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in my country.

I am conducting my research with the Spanish National Research Council, specifically in the National Centre for Metallurgical Research, where my research group collaborates with the National Museum of Science and Technology (MUNCYT), both in Madrid. 

I am working on a project named "Conservation of metals in scientific and technological heritage". Nowadays, scientific and technological collections present a great challenge for conservation due to the objects’ use over time, the coexistence of different materials on the objects and the environmental conditions to which they are exposed. This is the reason why we investigate the interaction of object-environment-material, identifying the deterioration agents in order to adopt the most effective actions....

(for the full article see: Issue 75 "News in Conservation" December 2019, p. 38)

Home Page Intro: 
We’ve been gathering recent internship reports and stories from students and emerging conservators. The quality and diversity of these projects is inspiring; it is clear these students are developing valuable problem-solving and hand skills that will intrigue even the most seasoned of conservation professionals. Many thanks to the students and emerging conservators who responded to our call, and to everyone else, enjoy!
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