This event has ended. Visit the official site or create your own event on Sched.
Back To Schedule
Thursday, June 1 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Research & Technical Studies) Conservation Science in Early Twentieth Century India: Dr. S. Paramasivan and the Chemical Conservation Laboratory at the Madras Government Museum

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Nearly a century after conservation science laboratories developed in museums in Berlin, London, Paris, Cambridge and New York, a 2015 special supplement of Studies in Conservation (SIC) sought to clarify the professional and scholarly commitments of the field of conservation science, and to re-define the competencies and role of the conservation scientist in the twenty first century. Of new import in 2015 was the need for the practice of conservation scientists to be interdisciplinary, community-engaged, and strategic. This paper reclaims the place of a pioneer of conservation science, Dr. Subramahnya Paramasivan (1903-1987), who as the first "archaeological chemist” at the Chemical Conservation Laboratory (CCL) at the Madras Government Museum (MGM), India, forged a new path in the study and preservation of Indian cultural heritage that remains relevant and revolutionary, and in keeping with the aspirations of the 2015 SIC publication. At the helm of the CCL from 1930 to 1946, Paramasivan's tenure was marked by a desire for understanding the physical and chemical factors that affect an object's condition and long-term preservation in a holistic way; a dogged pursuit of treatments best suited to the particular conditions not only of the objects in his care, but also the cultural and social context in which he worked; and an insistence on collaborative and interdisciplinary research to best understand a collection's preservation needs as well as its scholarly interpretation. Also significant was Paramasivan's scholarly engagement with scientists working in the field, in particular his correspondence and exchange of ideas and techniques with Rutherford Gettens. Drawing on archival documents, publications, oral histories and an extended residency at the site of the current CCL, this paper sheds light on Paramasivan's ability to negotiate and integrate scientific, cultural, political and religious demands in the preservation of museum objects. The paper further broadens the narrative of the history of conservation science, providing new evidence for the approaches of early scholars working in the field beyond Europe and North America.

avatar for Sanchita Balachandran-[Fellow]

Sanchita Balachandran-[Fellow]

Associate Director, Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum
Sanchita Balachandran is Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She teaches courses related to the technical study and analysis of ancient objects, as... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 2:30pm - 3:00pm CDT
Regency D Ballroom Level, West Tower