Book and Paper Conservation at Cornell: An Exhibit

By Michele Hamill

Greek Coptic

As part of Cornell University’s 2014 Reunion Weekend 2014, Conservation Lab staff have installed Book and Paper Conservation at Cornell, a new exhibition in Uris Library that celebrates bookbinding techniques and materials, and the development of hand papermaking; two craft traditions that greatly inform and direct conservation treatment practices.

coptic sewing Beautiful books, expertly hand-made by Pat Fox, Assistant Book Conservator and Caitlin Moore, Conservation Technician, are featured in the exhibit to illustrate bookbinding techniques. Coptic Sewing focuses on stitch variations originated by the early Egyptian Christians that are similar to today’s machine sewn books.   Caitlin contributed her exquisite Nag Hammadi (an early codex binding) and a model of sewing structures made during her graduate studies at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.  Michele Brown, Book Conservator, consulted on the development and content of the bookbinding techniques and materials exhibit cases.


casebindingCarol Kinsley-McNamara, Conservation Technician, contributed skillful, technical models to the Anatomy of a Case Binding, which shows the parts of the most typical hard cover binding in our libraries and how those parts are assembled.  What’s In a Book? displays samples of a wide range of materials used in bookbinding through the centuries.  Stunning marbled papers are showcased both on books and as backdrops.

paperJill Iacchei, Conservation Technician, has a deep interest in how raw materials, local conditions, and methods employed by Eastern and Western papermakers result in finished papers of distinct qualities and characteristics.  Eastern and Western Papermaking explores the differences in Eastern and Western sheet formation methods and highlights specialty papers used in library conservation. Jill contributed some fine papers she hand-made during her graduate work at the University of Iowa Center for the Book and a beautifully crafted papermaking mould she constructed from local materials.



photosThe role of Eastern and Western papers in paper and photograph conservation are illustrated by treatment examples in a case developed by Michele Hamill, Paper and Photograph Conservator.

This exhibit was a wonderful opportunity for Conservation Lab staff to curate, design and install an exhibit highlighting the talent, skill and knowledge of our department.  Our work on this exhibit was made possible by the support and assistance of Barbara Berger Eden, Director, Department of Preservation and Conservation, and Susette Newberry, Assistant Director of Research and Learning Services.

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