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Conservation with Peter Barnet and Peter Dandridge

Posted By Stanton Thomas, Ph.D., Curator of European Painting and Decorative Arts, Memphis Brooks Museum, Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Stanton Thomas, Ph.D.

Curator of European Painting and Decorative Arts

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee


One of the best parts of the conference was the opportunity to attend in-depth sessions on conservation. It was tough to decide among the session as the variety of offerings was excellent, and all of them would have applied to works in our collection. Also, as we do not have a conservation department, I was particularly interested in hearing about treatments, as well as innovative ways of presenting conservation materials to the public. I attended Peter Barnet and Pete Dandridge’s session on the study and conservation of aquamanilia. I was captivated the moment I walked through the door of the studio and saw no fewer than five splendid examples ranged along the table for examination. But if the objects themselves were fascinating, the discussion of medieval metal working, investigative techniques, and the connoisseurship of these vessels was even more so. For instance, although I had a rough concept of how these works were made, I had no idea of the sophistication of their manufacture—from the formation of their cores to the consistent need for post-casting repairs to lacunae resulting from the pouring process. The presentation also focused upon how such information could be effectively presented to a museum audience. In particular, the reproductions of an early crucible and working examples of the sculpting and casting process really brought the art of medieval metal-smithing to life.  Perhaps most importantly, attending the session provided me with great practical knowledge that will allow me to consider medieval metal work in my own institution’s collection more critically. Thanks to AAMC, I greatly increased my understanding of an area which I otherwise would know way too little.

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