Thaw Conservation Center's blog

Bound for Versailles: Investigating the Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection

In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection, on view June 25 through September 26, 2021, our conservators from the Thaw Conservation Center took a close look at techniques used in creating these elaborate works of art.

Corners and Edges: The Physical Evidence of Édouard Vuillard’s Sketchbooks

Several of the drawings included in Édouard Vuillard: Sketches and Studies come from sketchbooks spanning the artist’s entire career with dates as early as the 1890s to the 1930s. This exhibition provides the unique opportunity to learn about Vuillard’s preferred sketching materials. While preparing the drawings for installation, I looked for connections between them, with particular attention to similarities and differences in the physical evidence.

Inside Story: Using X-ray Microtomography to See Hidden Features of a Manuscript Codex

The Morgan’s collection includes a significant number of Coptic Christian manuscripts made in Egypt and dating from the fifth through the eleventh centuries. The Coptic collection is notable for its texts and illuminations as well as for a large group of early covers and binding fragments important in the history of bookbinding.

Taming the Wild Things: Storage Considerations for the Bequest of Maurice Sendak

Over 900 objects relating to Maurice Sendak’s (1928–2012) stage designs for The Magic Flute, The Cunning Little Vixen, Love for Three Oranges, The Nutcracker, and an opera based on Where the Wild Things Are arrived at the Morgan in 2013 as part of the artist’s extraordinary bequest. For many of us, the magic of Sendak’s books, in particular Where the Wild Things Are, live vividly in the memories of our childhood. It is thus both a delight and an honor to create a safe home for these wonderful objects.

Color and Curious Creatures: Fifteenth-Century Block Books at the Morgan, Part II

An earlier post discussed some of the traditional colors that appear in the Morgan’s block books. In most cases, the hand-applied colors are typical of the dyes and pigments seen in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, a few unexpected pigments were discovered during the study of these fifteenth-century books, enabling a better understanding of how some of them were changed over the centuries.

Hol(e)y Moly!: Historical Damage and Repairs in Medieval Manuscripts

When looking at a medieval manuscript, it is often the illuminations that catch the eye—colorful figures rendered in miniature, gleaming gold backgrounds, ornate initials that twirl and bloom across the margins. But beyond the illuminations, and even beyond the text, the substrate itself merits closer inspection.

Materials and Decorative Techniques of the Read Album Leaves

The Morgan Library & Museum holds a collection of fifty-seven Persian and Indian album leaves acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan from Charles Hercules Read in 1911. These leaves are collectively known as the Read Albums and are broadly divided into two groups, Persian (MS M.386.1–.21) and Indian (MS M.458.1–.36).

Looking at Works of Art on Paper: An Overview of Examination and Imaging Techniques

Drawing by Montagna details normal illumination and IRR comparison

Conservators in the Thaw Conservation Center (TCC) often spend time just looking at objects in the Morgan’s collection with the goal of understanding the physical structure of the object, the materials that make up the object, the support the object is made on, the techniques used to make the object, the object’s current condition, and even how the object may have looked at the time of its creation.

Thaw Conservation Center

The Thaw Conservation Center at The Morgan Library & Museum, a world-class laboratory for the conservation of works on paper and parchment—drawings, prints, photographs, illuminated manuscripts, rare books, fine bindings, and literary, historical, and music manuscripts—as well as a place for conservation studies, opened in February 2002.
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