State-of-the-art conservation on view at formal dedication of Cultural Heritage laboratory

Over 100 members of the Yale community gathered June 19 for the formal dedication of a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory shared by all collections at Yale.
A slide show on the dedication of the Conservation Laboratory at Yale's Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, located on Yale University's West Campus.

Over 100 members of the Yale community gathered June 19 for the formal dedication of a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory shared by all collections at Yale.

President Peter Salovey spoke at the ceremony and toured the new Conservation Laboratory, one of several shared facilities within the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) at Yale West Campus. “This facility is not just the institute’s conservation laboratory, nor just West Campus’ conservation laboratory: This is Yale’s conservation laboratory, uniting conservators and scientists in service to Yale’s many collections and museums,” said Salovey. “I hope the Yale community will share with us in this opportunity to collaborate at the cutting edge of cultural heritage conservation”.

The IPCH Conservation Laboratory covers over 8000 square feet and comprises a large open-plan workspace offering free-flowing collaboration across a wide range of projects and media — paper and textiles, paintings, natural history specimens and other objects. Many of the collections in the laboratory have their own conservation space within the same building, providing direct access to the new facility, which also houses rooms for formatting and framing, a structural workshop for sculptures, and a lead-walled imaging room equipped with a 300 kilovolt X-ray. The laboratory has a number of architectural features that optimize the preservation of objects, such as skylights that maximize natural light. Bay windows overlook the length of the main workspace so passersby can observe what is going on inside.

Conservation is a complex field that combines art, science, and research. Conservators are responsible for preserving and restoring works of art and support a number of activities across Yale. The IPCH Conservation Laboratory is overseen by a steering committee chaired by Ian McClure, the Susan Morse Hilles Chief Conservator at Yale University Art Gallery. “With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a major gift from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, the possibility of the Conservation Laboratory became realizable,” said McClure. “The space has been thoughtfully designed to accept a wide range of projects, from fossils to 21st-century art, painting, photography, sculptures, textiles, and scientific instruments. We are excited to work alongside colleagues from across Yale and beyond.”

One of seven institutes at Yale’s West Campus, the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage is dedicated to advancing the field of heritage science by improving the science and practice of conservation in a sustainable manner. At the crossroads of science and art, the institute is home to state-of-the-art research, conservation, and digitization laboratories. Among the institute’s priorities are sustainable and preventive conservation, materials aging diagnostics, technical and technological studies on cultural artifacts, and mechanical and non-destructive testing in the built heritage field. Led by inaugural director Stefan Simon, it engages in research and teaching in a multidisciplinary setting, working closely with the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, among others. 

Visit the West Campus website for more information about the Conservation Laboratory and the work of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.

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