Prepping "Religious Change and Print"

Beginning September 14, over 150 Newberry collection items—rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, and art—will appear in the exhibition Religious Change and Print, 1450-1700. But before they're ready to be displayed, they must pass through the steady hands of our conservators.

The process starts with the conservation team evaluating the exhibition items and assigning each a treatment plan. Then the conservators roll up their sleeves and get to work. They wash broadsides, mend tears, and humidify and flatten pages, boards, and vellum bindings.

Next, it's on to framing maps and paintings or sending books to the "cradle cage," a depot teeming with plexiglass molded in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Conservators brave the cage as they pair each object with a cradle that will support it throughout the exhibition.

Finally, it's time for installation in the Newberry galleries. The conservation and facilities teams strap book openings in place with oh-so delicate ribbons of polyethylene, mount framed objects and wall graphics, and monitor environmental conditions so all the items can be preserved beyond the exhibition for future generations of readers.

See the fruits of their labor (and offer praise yourself!) when Religious Change and Print opens September 14.