This Bible first entered our client's family in 1889, and had been passed down to her through her mother's side of the family, who had emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia. Though she and her mother hadn’t used the Bible in quite some time, it was a treasured family heirloom that our client was eager to see repaired. She entrusted Bill Paulson, owner of the Apple Frame Studio in Mundelein, Illinois, to see to that the Bible be restored to its former condition. Bill, who has frequently worked with The Center on behalf of his clients, knew this was a job for our conservators.
In 1883 while presenting a lecture at Oxford, premier art critic John Ruskin said that “for a long time I used to say, in all my elementary books, that except in a graceful and minor way, women could not draw or paint. I’m beginning to bow myself to the much more delightful conviction that no one else can.” It was the paintings of artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) which were causing Ruskin to question his convictions. With Ruskin’s support, Trotter was at the cusp of a new career that could have changed art history; in fact, Ruskin believed that if Trotter devoted herself completely to her artwork, that "she would be the greatest living painter and do things that would be immortal."
The Conservation Center recently had the pleasure of working with Bill Hartel to treat “Regulations for the Army of the United States,” a 1913 U.S. Army military handbook.
Bill is an avid collector of rare books and acquires those that, in his opinion, “changed the world.” Highlights of his collection include a 1776 British first edition of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” complete with handwritten defamatory comments about King George, and “Round the Moon” by Jules Verne, circa 1895, signed by the commander of the first actual voyage around the moon, Frank Borman. Bill is also an author and published the Chicago Tribune Best Seller “A Day at the Park” about Wrigley Field. Given the depth of his collection, a well-worn copy of an army handbook with a missing leather spine, fragile textblock, and water damage may seem like an anomaly. However, the book’s value lies in the role it played during a difficult time in Bill’s life.
Readers of our newsletter may remember a story that was published in December 2014 about a 10th century Greek Codex we had received from The Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University in Michigan. The Conservation Center was proud to be given the assignment of conserving this precious work. The codex—a rare book containing portions of the Gospels According to Luke and John—was crafted on pages of parchment, written in iron gall ink, containing decoration in gold leaf and bound in leather. Our paper and rare books conservators joined forces and poured many hours of hard work into assessing the damage and researching the appropriate treatment solutions. Additionally, a treatment plan was designed and implemented, to protect this rare volume from further damage in the future.
One of the misconceptions concerning work performed at an art treatment facility such as The Conservation Center is that an object or a piece of art must have significant value on the market to qualify for professional care. This is simply not the case. While many of our clients have high-end pieces that belong to large-scale collections and museums, our conservators also specialize in treating family antiques and heirlooms that have sentimental value.
Family heirlooms connect generations in a deep, personal way. From the handed down bible and grandmother’s knitted quilt, to a late 1800s baptismal gown and photos of a relative going off to war—anyone who has found or kept historic pieces in the family knows how moving they can be. These treasured items, passed down through the decades, provide insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family's history.
There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. And while spotless living spaces make a house a home, many of us unfortunately have to use harsh chemicals and solvents to achieve that goal. The application of products found under the kitchen sink can lead to chemical reactions on the surface of art objects that can prove to be quite serious, resulting in detrimental losses that are usually so much greater than the reward of a home cleaning approach. When it comes to caring for your art and antiques while freshening up around the house, we strongly advise our readers to adhere to the “DDIY” rule—Don’t Do it Yourself—and leave the job to professional art conservators.
After more than three decades of preserving fine art and heirlooms at The Conservation Center, we now have an impressive answer to one of the most the frequently asked questions by our clients and visitors: “What is the oldest piece that The Center has ever conserved?” Recently, a 10th century Greek Codex—which contains portions of the New Testament Gospels of Luke and John—arrived at our conservation lab, and we, admittedly, are truly impressed. This rare book belongs to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Bible-based university supported by Seventh-day Adventist Church.
This year’s cool Chicago summer months flew by fast, but The Conservation Center has been brimming with activities. Our warehouse currently has a record-breaking 7,000 pieces currently in storage, waiting to be conserved--keeping our expert conservators challenged by exciting new projects that cross many disciplines. Our "A Day in the Life" photo essay in January allowed readers a behind-the-scenes peek into The Conservation Center team at work. We’ve once again compiled a series of candid images, capturing a slice of daily life in our work space.
Start spreading the news: The Conservation Center is truly excited to announce a remarkable partnership with Crozier Fine Arts—New York's foremost fine and decorative arts storage and logistics company. Together, we have launched the Art Conservation Shuttle, fully connecting The Center's interdisciplinary conservators in one the nation's largest art conservation labs to our friends and growing client base on the East Coast. New York's art community can now enjoy museum-quality, art conservation services with an efficient turnaround timetable at competitive costs.
On any given day, taking a walk through The Conservation Center’s 25,000 square foot facilities, with a 10,000 square foot storage space, is always quite an experience—because you’ll never know what kind of artworks and cultural objects you might encounter. Since our dedicated staff members are all art enthusiasts here at The Center, we love geeking out at the amazing items we work on every day. This spring, we have had the pleasure of either conserving or preserving some unexpected pieces. We’ve compiled a series of visual highlights documenting what makes The Conservation Center such a delightful place to work.