For every exhibition, Conservators work closely with the Curators and the Exhibitions Department to ensure that the objects selected will be displayed to their best advantage.
This work begins long before the exhibition opens with reviewing all the objects that the Curators have selected, ensuring that they can be displayed safely, setting guidelines on light intensity and duration, and giving input on possible mounting issues. As exhibition preparation continues, the Conservators are consulted on case materials and specifications and review all mount designs to ensure they provide the proper support without placing stress on any part of the object.
Of course, the greatest effort goes into the treatment of the objects. Each object slated for exhibition comes into the lab for documentation and whatever treatment is necessary to stabilize it and to show it at its best. Frequently the Conservators consult the Curators for information on how an object should look or be presented. Because our newest exhibition, Native American Voices, features so many delicate organic objects that can be damaged by overexposure to light it will have a series of object change-outs, so the Conservation Department will continue to treat objects for this exhibition throughout its five-year run. Other exhibition projects include some new additions for Imagine Africa, a small display for the Year of Color, and an upcoming exhibition on finds from the Museum’s excavations at Sitio Conte, Panama.
(Photo caption: Temporary Assistant Conservator Ainslie Harrison works on a number of artifacts, including a pair of beaded boy’s trousers.)