Artifact Investigation

I love those artefact conservation posts! Here is one from Carrie at the Kelsey about a bowl from Karanis covered with some mysterious white stuff. (And I love a good detective story as well!)

Kelsey Museum

CAROLINE ROBERTS, Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

I love a good mystery, and nothing (save a really good crime novel) is better than an artifact mystery. I love the thrill of investigating an object, identifying its agents of deterioration, and nabbing those culprits one by one. I also really enjoy teaching new conservators how to use investigative tools to make their own observations. I recently spent a day looking at an object with Ellen Seidell, a U of M junior who is interning in our lab. The ceramic bowl – excavated at Karanis in 1929 – was covered with feathery white crystals, as well as a drippy, peeling surface coating. I had my suspicions as to what these were, but wanted Ellen to learn for herself how to identify unknown materials.

To do this, we examined the bowl under longwave ultraviolet light. This is a useful tool not only for…

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UGA students visit the NCMA

Back on September 25, a group of students from the University of Georgia, Athens drove all the way up to Raleigh to visit the NC Museum of Art. The visit was part of Professor Mark Abbe’s course entitled Senior Seminar Greek and Roman Art: New Approaches and New Discoveries.

Discussing gallery design and object interpretation with students from the University of Georgia, Athens

Discussing gallery design and object interpretation with Mark Abbe’s students from the University of Georgia, Athens.

This study trip included a special curatorial tour of the Egyptian galleries, where I discussed the design of the galleries,  interpretation of objects and general curatorial work. Students also studied the Classical marble statues they had selected for a research paper due later this semester. I remained on hand to answer questions.

After a delicious lunch Neomonde (a must when Mark is in town), the visit continued in the NCMA’s Conservation lab, where Noelle chatted about paintings conservation, Perry demonstrated laser cleaning, and Corey and I talked about the Bacchus Conservation Project and objects conservation.

As always, it was a pleasure to spend the day with students who are interested in art and eager to learn about careers in the museum field.  (Clearly, the tour was deemed beneficial and interesting because I received a hand-written thank you card sent by snail mail! That was such a pleasant surprise.)