In INF 385T, Disaster Planning and Response, we explore disaster preparedness and recovery for cultural heritage collections impacted by flood, fire, mold, and more. Here, we use a shake table to simulate two earthquake storage strategies for artworks of varying shapes. The artworks featured here are played by a set of Duplo blocks.

An introduction to our earthquake demo in INF 385T, Disaster Planning and Response.

Read more about the earthquake storage strategies highlighted in this video:

Agbabian, M.S., Ginell, W.S., Masri. S.F. and Nigbor. R.L. “Evaluation of earthquake damage mitigation method for museum objects.” Studies in Conservation 36 (1991) 111-120. 

Emergency Salvage of Family Treasures

In the historic winter storm impacting Texas and much of the US this week, many of us have encountered water disasters. Burst pipes and thawing ice can pose serious damage to family treasures. Remember to lift your valued keepsakes up off the floor to minimize water damage. Even a few inches of elevation can make the difference between preservation and loss.

For more tips, please see our UT iSchool salvage page.

Treatment Examination: Ellis County Courthouse Photo

In Spring 2021, I’m pleased to perform conservation treatment on a late-19th century photograph of the Ellis County Courthouse, designed by James Riely Gordon. This item comes to us from the Alexander Architectural Archives here at UT Austin. The Ellis County Courthouse was a signature achievement in Gordon’s career designing Texas county courthouses. Construction required two million bricks, “160 car loads of Texas granite, 100 car loads of Pecos red sandstone, used in trimming the building, and 14 cars of iron”1.

The Alexander Architectural Archives seeks stabilization for this photograph, which has high use for scholarship, historic preservation, and display. The first step in treatment is detailed examination that will inform decision-making. The item consists of a silver gelatin print mounted to backing board. While the photo is in good condition, the backing board is acidic, with cracks and losses typical of backing boards of this era.

Stay tuned for more on the rationale and techniques that go into this treatment.

Item examination using Optivisor magnifiers (on my head).

1Meister, Chris (2011). James Riely Gordon: His Courthouses and Other Public Architecture. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press. p. 130.

First Day of Class

Spring 2021 has arrived, bringing with it the start of two very hands-on courses: Introduction to Paper Conservation and Disaster Planning and Response. For both courses, workspace set-up is critical. Here, you can see my space: a laptop for my syllabus and class notes; a desktop for Zoom and Canvas; and an overhead webcam for hands-on demonstrations. Now, if only I had an on-air producer to run this show!

Remote teaching
Ready for the first day, Spring 2021.

Preparing for Spring

As the fall semester draws to a close, I’m in the lab today packing supply kits for my upcoming spring classes: Introduction to Paper Conservation and Disaster Planning and Response. Here’s a peek behind the scenes of remote learning. Looking forward to seeing you all in January!

spring supply kit
Packing supply kits for spring. Those folders are full of pre-cuts and practice materials, organized by week.

#AskAConservator Day

Today is #AskAConservator Day! This annual event commemorates the November 1966 flood in Florence, Italy, when priceless cultural heritage was damaged. The international salvage efforts that resulted from this disaster built the foundation of the modern field of conservation.

Do you have questions about caring for personal treasures or family keepsakes? Want to know more about conservation? Let’s chat in the comments below! You can also watch social media for #AskAConservator all day today.


Unraveling the Myth: Harry Jander’s Tall-Tale Textiles

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Unraveling the Myth: Harry Jander’s Tall-Tale Textiles, an exhibit presented by INF 386E, Planning and Understanding Exhibits. The exhibit is on view in the right corridor of the UTA building now through November 24.

Harry Jander was a textile collector whose yarns regularly stretched the bounds of belief. Did he really receive a diamond ring from Queen Mary? Did he actually wear a Ming Dynasty robe to relax at home? Did he truly collect textiles from royalty and celebrities? This exhibit explores Jander’s textile collection and the mysteries surrounding it.

INF 386E students have created this exhibit during the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely to select materials, craft narrative, draft text, create exhibit supports, and so much more. Hats off to their perseverance and collaborative work! UT community, should you make an in-person visit to UTA, we hope you’ll stop by.

Harry Jander's Tall-Tale Textiles
Window 1, Jander’s robe
Harry Jander's Tall-Tale Textiles
Window 2, textile identification and description
Harry Jander's Tall-Tale Textiles
Window 3, celebrity connections