Conservator’s Notebook: The Three Graces in the Conservation Lab

The Burns Library exhibition Binding Friendship:  Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings is on display in the Thompson Room (pictured here) and the Fine Print Room at the Burns Library through October 31st, 2011.

The Burns Library exhibition Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings is on display in the Thompson Room (pictured here) and the Fine Print Room at the Burns Library through October 31st, 2011.

During this academic year I have had three excellent interns assisting in the conservation lab here in the John J. Burns Library.  They are: Erin Garrity, Bookbuilders of Boston intern; Lauren Zajac, Boston College honors student; and Fionnuala Gerrity, North Bennet Street School student.  All three young ladies were most helpful in preparing exhibition supports for the current Burns Library exhibition, Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings.  This exhibition features over fifty books from the Burns Library’s Jesuitica Collection.  To view the exhibit catalog online, click here.

Erin Garrity making a box in the Burns Conservation Lab.

Erin Garrity making a box in the Burns Conservation Lab.

Erin Garrity came to the lab as the Bookbuilders of Boston intern. Erin, a Boston College senior, is a double major.  Her subjects are History and English Literature.  Erin is an extremely bright student; she will be graduating with honors in history and has received the Janet James Award for Excellence in History. She is a skilled musician as well and is a member of the Boston College Flute Choir.  While working in the lab, Erin made clamshell boxes for a number of valuable books, including the 1672 Jesuit volume Relacam do estado politico e espiritual do imperio de China and a first edition (1687) of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.

Boxes made by Bookbuilders of Boston Intern and BC '11 student Erin Garrity.

Boxes made by Bookbuilders of Boston Intern and BC ’11 student Erin Garrity.

Erin also made use of the Burns Library for research, consulting some of the Irish manuscript collections forher history thesis.  In addition, she wrote a post titled “A Landowner’s View of the 1798 Irish Rebellion” for the Burns Library Blog. Upon graduation Erin will be employed as an editorial assistant for Pearson Publishing, fulfilling her goal to work in the field of publication.

 

Lauren Zajac

Lauren Zajac

Lauren Zajac chose to work in the lab as part of her senior honors project. Lauren, like Erin, is a double major; her topics chemistry and studio art. I agreed to instruct Lauren in collaboration with Boston College scientist,   Dr. Gregory McMahon, and with input from Diana Larsen at the McMullen Museum. Lauren engaged in a project which could further her pursuit of a career in art conservation. The collaboration, involving a damaged portrait bust of the Marquis de Lafayette, possibly by French sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828), now in the custody of the McMullen Museum, afforded her the opportunity to conduct an art history investigation, learn about conservation issues, and to execute material analysis. Lauren gave a presentation about her project at Harvard University. More about Lauren’s project will be available in the forthcoming Spring 2011 Boston College Libraries Newsletter.  In the lab Lauren prepared exhibition supports and also assisted with the repair of watercolor paintings from the Nuala Ní Dhomhnail Papers. In June, Lauren will begin work as a lab research assistant at New York University, a school with a renowned conservation program.

Fionnuala Gerrity

Fionnuala Gerrity

For the spring semester a second-year student from the Bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School joined us in the conservation lab. Fionnuala Hart Gerrity proved to be an able assistant. In addition to being trained as a bookbinder, she received a BFA in printmaking in 2009 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she began making artist’s books. Fionnuala also had extensive hands-on conservation training at Haverford College Library and the University of Pennsylvania. While here at the Burns Library she prepared book supports for the Binding Friendship exhibition, created preservation enclosures for finely printed Irish poems from our

William Morris imprint from the Burns Library Fine Print Collection, bound by Fionnuala Gerrity.

William Morris imprint from the Burns Library Fine Print Collection, bound by Fionnuala Gerrity.

world-class Irish collection, made a clamshell box for a 19thcentury manuscript and bound an important William Morris imprint from the Burns Library’s Fine Print Collection. Fionnuala will finish the semester with us and then start a summer conservation fellowship at the Boston Athenaeum. Click here to view images and descriptive details of Fionnuala’s artist book, A Mythological Bestiary.  You may also want to take a look at Fionnuala’s website. She will be giving a presentation about her work for the Boston College Libraries.  I have enjoyed working with these talented young women and am very proud that all three will be leaving the Burns Library having obtained work in their chosen fields. I will miss their cheerful presence in the lab, but wish them well in their bright futures!

Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator, Burns Library, barbara.hebard@bc.edu

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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