Thaw Conservation Center's blog
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.
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).
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.
The Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan is 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.
In 1786, the Clergy of the Cadiz cathedral in Spain commissioned Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) to compose The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross. In 1791, a copyist’s manuscript of the full orchestral score, with annotations by Haydn himself was prepared for a series of concerts to be held in London.
Conservators working in the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library & Museum undertake technical research projects relating to the objects they are treating for the Morgan's robust exhibition and loan program, for digitization, and for scholarly access in the Reading Room.
To enhance our understanding of the Crusader Bible, the Thaw Conservation Center performed non-destructive analysis including X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and digital imaging techniques to characterize the pigments in folios believed to be executed by different illuminators.
Take a peek inside a rare and fascinating 18th-century artist's sketchbook of theater designs, recently discovered at NYU's Villa La Pietra, in Florence, Italy.
Conservators in the Thaw Conservation Center partnered with international colleagues to analyze these two sixteenth-century Venetian works using imaging techniques much like those employed by forensic investigators.
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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