During one afternoon each month, WUDPAC students and staff hold a conservation clinic. Members of the public can call in advance and make an appointment to speak with a conservator about a collectible or family heirloom that may be in need of treatment or preventive care. As part of the second year curriculum, we students have the opportunity to sit in on the appointments related to our material specialty, with the idea that by the end of the year we will be expert enough to conduct the appointments on our own.
Not only is clinic an excellent opportunity for public outreach, but we see some amazing curiosities walk through the door. Just last week, a man brought in a document signed by Abraham Lincoln! Paper Conservator Joan Irving discussed possible treatment options to reduce deformations in the parchment and suggested a list of conservators to contact for treatment. Other appointments may focus on the care and handling of an object, such as a family Bible, advising on the use of book wedges for viewing and a box for storage. Occasionally, a generous person will bring in an object to donate to the program to serve as a student project, and those items are always welcome and appreciated.
Every month when clinic rolls around, I’m excited to see what’s on the list for paper, books, and photographs, as well as in the other specialties. The objects conservators look at such a variety of materials in their appointments, the paintings conservators see some interesting condition issues, and the textile conservators always book up quickly. If you live in the Wilmington area and you have some questions about your own treasure, please come and see us!