story of nine remarkable curators, conservators and preparators
and their work in the Anthropology Conservation Lab.
Tortoiseshell and Imitation Tortoiseshell
tortoiseshell decoration is derived from the outer plates or scutes
of the giant sea turtle, which are composed of keratin. Melanin
provides the shell's distinctive dark mottled markings. "Tortoiseshell
scute can be viewed as a giant fingernail with freckles," remarked
Don Williams, Senior Furniture Conservator of the Smithsonian
Center for Materials, Research and Education, who spoke at the
Sept 18, 2003 seminar.
has attempted to replicate tortoiseshell's natural thermoplasticity
with "tordonshell,” a cross-linked collagen imitation
of granulated hide glue. Its working properties are similar to tortoiseshell
because they share a similar material base, and because tordonshell
can be made in large sheets, it can be used in a greater range of
a copy of the paper, write email@example.com
Years of Collections Preservation
A review of archival records discloses shifting
priorities and uncovers a few unsung heroes of this remarkable collection.
staff produced the newsletter from 19941999, reaching an international
audience of more than 800 readers.
Today the newsletter is edited and produced by Marian
Kaminitz of the National Museum of the American Indian.
No. 19 — April 1999
18 — Oct 1998
17 — April 1998
16 — Oct 1997
15 — April 1997
13 — March 1996
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746
Anthropology Conservation Laboratory
ACL provides professional care for collections; reviews prospective
acquisitions and loans; prepares collections for exhibit and loan;
maintains objects on exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History;
reviews sampling requests; advises on object care; and implements
preventive conservation projects.
Earlier Work in the Conservation Lab
Drawings Conserved for Pathbreaking Exhibition
— Read how Nora Lockshin and other Smithsonian conservators
prepared Guy Kararook's drawings for exhibition at the Anchorage
Conservator's Eye: Learning to Expect the Unexpected
— ACL Staff used a technique called infrared spectroscopy
on a suspicious, moldy-looking deposit discovered on a wooden
figurine from Mali.
Anthropology Collections — Totem
poles, heavy statues, canoes and hundreds of other large
and heavy artifacts have been moved to a special area in
the Museum Support Center. Storing the big ones takes teamwork
and plenty of planning. Here's how they did it.
||Egyptian Squeezes Conserved —
ACL staff recently conserved 104 bas-relief squeezes from Egyptian
monuments that were donated to the Smithsonian in 1874. Because
they are not typically considered museum "objects,"
paper materials are often the most overlooked and least researched.
Challenges of Ethnographic Conservation — Before
an elaborate Plains Indian headdress attributed to Tall Bull
(Cheyenne) could be loaned for an exhibit, it was humidified,
relaxed, repositioned and placed on a special bracket.
Neanderthalensis Specimen Rehoused — Due
to its high research value, ACL staff recently designed a new
storage system for a remarkable 60,000-year-old specimen of
Homo neanderthalensis excavated in the Shanidar Cave
in northern Iraq.
Indian Hall Objects Conserved —
For 47 years, the public visited the American Indian Hall to
enjoy and learn from artifacts created by the peoples of South
and Central America, the American Southwest, and California.
for the Care of Works on Paper with Cellulose Acetate Lamination
well-intentioned attempt to address the condition of fragile
historic documents is not the cure-all that librarians and archivists