- Every book lover has encountered a poor volume that is in need of repair and wondered what to do. When pages are detaching and the binding is falling apart, tape can seem like a very appealing solution–but is it really the best option?
Conservation, as a profession, has developed over decades from traditional craft-based approaches to scientifically-informed treatment methodology in order to preserve our most precious books and manuscripts. Modern conservation approaches bring together a fascinating blend of historic bookbinding and papermaking expertise with a modern application of organic chemistry and instrumental analysis in order to inform how to slow deterioration and extend the useful lives of our priceless collections. Perhaps it is this blend of art and science that makes the field so fascinating.
While contemporary conservators strive to apply innovative modern conservation treatments for our objects, we see the good, the bad, and the ugly of past repairs through the ages in our collections every day. In this exhibition, we bring together examples–many drawn from our own Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s holdings–to show the dynamic practice of modern book and paper conservation.