From the Stacks | Newberry

From the Stacks

Newberry Librarian Stanley Pargellis in the stacks, ca. 1959.

Newberry Librarian Stanley Pargellis in the stacks, ca. 1959.

The official Newberry blog investigating the library’s collection and highlighting the users and staff who help bring it to life every day.

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.

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Counter-clockwise from upper left: washing an 18th-century Dutch broadside featuring Martin Luther and the Pope; mending a tear in a book of prints depicting the French Wars of Religion; Conservator for Special Projects Kasie Janssen braves the Newberry’s “cradle cage” to find the right plexiglass supports for exhibition items; Director of Conservation Lesa Dowd installs items in a built-in case in the Newberry’s galleries.

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.

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