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Thursday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
(Objects) The case of the Hydrating Hydra: examination and treatment of a Blaschka glass invertebrate model

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Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka were a father and son team of master glass workers active in and around Dresden in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They made realistic and accurate models of hundreds of invertebrate species which they sold to schools and museums all over the world. In 1885 Cornell University purchased 570 of these delicate models for their teaching collection. As teaching tools these models were frequently handled until they were replaced by modern technologies, especially underwater photography. Like many Blaschka collections, the Cornell models were stored away and forgotten. In the 1960s they resurfaced and were sent to The Corning Museum of Glass for safe keeping. A selection of about 70 of these models will be on display at the museum until January 2017. In preparation for the exhibition, the museum's conservation team carefully examined, cleaned, and in some cases, reconstructed these delicate and unique models. Although the models are primarily made of glass, other materials such as metal wires, shells, paper, glues, resins, and paints were also used. Time and fluctuating environments have caused the structurally fragile models to suffer from deterioration of many of the components, including the glass. Conservation treatments of these complex objects required both a knowledge of the original materials, as well as an understanding of their sensitivity to water and solvents. The extremely thin glass and the sensitive surfaces of the models necessitated the development of innovative new treatments. Ethical, as well as practical, standards and protocols were developed for the treatment of the models and have proved extremely effective for minimally invasive cleaning, stabilization, and reconstruction. This presentation will focus on the examination and treatment of one model, which underwent extensive treatment. The microscopy and UV examinations of this model revealed clear signs of glass deterioration and provided new information about how the model was made. Treatment included surface consolidation, dry brush and solvent cleaning, re-assembly, and loss compensation with cast B-72 film. Treatments for a few other models will also be discussed to highlight additional conservation challenges.

avatar for N. Astrid R. Van Giffen-[PA]

N. Astrid R. Van Giffen-[PA]

Associate Conservator, Corning Museum of Glass
N. Astrid R. van Giffen is the Associate Conservator at The Corning Museum of Glass. Before joining The Corning Museum of Glass staff in 2009, van Giffen worked as a private conservator in Oregon and was the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Objects Conservation at the Straus Center for Conservation... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower