From the Field

The Science of Art Conservation

April 7, 2014

The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University has partnered with the Center for Science Education at Emory and Atlanta area teachers to create art conservation-based science education resources. On March 21, the Museum launched their mini-site, Science & Art Conservation: Resources for Teachers, at an Evening for Educators event held in conjunction with the inaugural year of the Atlanta Science Festival. Area teachers explored a "science fair" in the galleries, encountering stations dedicated to each of the topics presented on the web resource. These stations were staffed by educators who had tested the activities detailed on the site and had developed associated learning units for classroom use.

High school science teacher Tiffany Smith and student intern Julia Commander (EC’13) worked with Carlos conservators Renée Stein and Kathryn Etre to develop science lab activities based on art conservation practices and paired with Georgia Performance Standards for chemistry and biology. Case- or problem-based learning units were created by teachers who participated in a week-long summer workshop jointly sponsored by the Carlos Museum and the Center for Science Education at Emory University, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Topics include Adhesives & Solubility, Corrosion & Copper, Fibers & Microscopy, Insect Identification, Paper & pH, Blue Pigments, Salts & Ceramics, and Waterlogged Wood. Resources for each topic include teacher guides, student activities, learning units, context images, and selected references.  The site also includes a short narrated slide presentation that introduces the field of Art Conservation. Users are invited to submit learning units that can be added to the site and more activities may be developed to address additional topics, making the site a vibrant and expanding public resource.


Image: Evening for Educators event at the Michael C. Carlos Museum on March 21, 2014. Image courtesy of the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University.