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Preservation and Conservation

 

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Mission

The Huntington’s library and art collections are comprised of extraordinary books, manuscripts, photographs, prints, paintings, sculpture and other objects that are treasured for their intellectual content as cultural artifacts, and works of art. The core mission of the Preservation Department is to ensure that these collections survive, in their original formats, for the use and enjoyment of future generations. The department’s activities focus on the skilled treatment and repair of individual items, as well as the long-term preservation of the collections. In this way we support The Huntington’s mission to collect, organize, and preserve written and graphic materials and works of art and to make them available to scholars and visitors.

 

Senior paintings conservator Christina O'Connell uses a Hi-R NEO 900 Haag-Streit surgical microscope to examine Thomas Gainsborough's iconic portrait of "The Blue Boy" (ca. 1770) as part of a preliminary analysis of the painting's condition, in preparation for conservation treatment scheduled to begin in the fall of 2018.

 

The Huntington Conservation Center

The Huntington addressed preservation and conservation concerns beginning in the 1920’s with the construction of fire- and earthquake-proof rare book stacks and the establishment of a book bindery. In 1981, the construction of the Avery Conservation Center ushered in a new era of comprehensive preservation and conservation activity.

 

Photo by Kate Lain

Today, the Conservation Center is located on the second floor of the Munger Research Center. The conservation laboratory, a 10,000 square foot facility built in 2004, includes a book and paper lab, wet/chemical labs, a photo documentation studio, a particulate room, and offices. An interim paintings lab was added in 2013. Library exhibitions design and preparation is housed in a separate 2,000 square foot studio.

 

Kristi Westberg, the Dibner Book Conservator at The Huntington, works to preserve a copy of Primum mobile (Prime Mover), an astronomy book by the Austrian humanist and astronomer Erasmus Oswald Schreckenfuchs (1511–1579).

 

In the Library Conservation Center, highly trained conservators and technicians conduct physical and chemical treatments on rare books, manuscripts, works of art on paper, photographic materials, and paintings. The library preservation program consists of interrelated activities which include:

 

  • preventive and collections level conservation
  • single item conservation treatment of collection materials
  • environmental monitoring and control
  • integrated pest management
  • emergency preparedness
  • exhibitions design and preparation

 

Education, Training, Outreach

Education, training, and outreach are an important part of library preservation at The Huntington. Visit Conservation Internships for information about current internships, and learn about the contributions of internship recipients.

 

Resources

The preservation department does not offer conservation treatment to the public, however, for guides on caring for your collections or to find a conservator in your area, please visit the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

 

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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