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Friday, May 30 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Photographic Materials Session) Condition documentation and monitoring of an exhibition of daguerreotypes at the State Hermitage Museum

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From December 7, 2011 to February 5, 2012, the State Hermitage Museum produced a major exhibition entitled The Age of the Daguerreotype: Early photography in Russia displaying significant daguerreotypes from its collection with major loans received from the Museum of the Russian Literature Institute of the Russian Academy of Science and the Library of the Russian Academy of Arts. One of the first large-scale photography shows at the Hermitage, the exhibition was considered a breakthrough, displaying for the first time many objects of significant artistic, historical and cultural value. Curated by Dr. Natalia Avetyan of the Hermitage’s Department of Russian History and Culture, the exhibition received wide recognition and awards from the Committee of St. Petersburg Culture and the Vladimir Potanin Foundation.

This exhibition also was notable from the standpoint of being the first major display of daguerreotypes following Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes which was organized by the George Eastman House and the International Center of Photography. This exhibit traveled to three venues from June 17, 2005 to April 9, 2006 and the showed more than 160 daguerreotypes from 37 major institutions and collectors. Carefully documented, changes to some plates occurred during this exhibition, including the development of a white haze. Subsequent research led by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a lender to Young America, demonstrated contact with chlorine-containing compounds can cause silver to be re-deposited on the surface of daguerreotype plate upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation and light.

Cognizant of this research and its implications, the newly formed Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Photographic Materials (within the Department of Scientific Restoration and Conservation) at the Hermitage Museum, as part of its involvement in an ongoing FAIC-Mellon initiative in photograph conservation, developed and implemented a unique system to document the condition of displayed items before, during and after exhibition. This system primarily relied on precisely controlled and repeatable photographic documentation combined with a tablet computer-based system for daily inspection of the plates while on display in the galleries. This work was combined with active monitoring and recording of temperature, relative humidity, light intensity and duration. Careful examination of the documentation before and after exhibition indicated there were no obvious, visible, changes to the plates as a result of display. However, existing deterioration products on the interior of cover glasses showed changes in size, distribution and amount. This work clearly demonstrates the dynamic nature of the microclimate within a daguerreotype case or passe-partout. The presentation will focus on the documentation system, display monitoring protocols and an examination of results following exhibition.


Jiuan Jiuan Chen

Assistant Professor, Art Conservation Department, SUNY Buffalo State
Jiuan Jiuan Chen joined the faculty in the Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State in the Fall of 2012 as the professor for Conservation Imaging, Technical Examination and Documentation. She is a graduate of Class of 2001 from the same program. She previously interned or worked at the Northeast Document Conservation Center, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Heugh-Edmondson... Read More →
avatar for Tatiana Sayatina

Tatiana Sayatina

Head of Photograph Conservation laboratory, conservator, The State Hermitage Museum
Tatiana Sayatina is a conservator and the head (since 2011) of Laboratory for Scientific Conservation of Photographic materials of The State Hermitage Museum. Prior to this position, she worked as a conservator in the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Works of Applied Art made from Organic Materials. She graduated from the Saint Petersburg State University with a diploma in archaeology and a qualification as historian and lecturer of... Read More →

avatar for Paul Messier

Paul Messier

Head, Lens Media Lab, Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Paul Messier is the head of the Lens Media Lab at Yale University's Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. the LML is devoted to materials-based research on the 20th century photographic print.

Friday May 30, 2014 11:30am - 12:00pm
Grand Ballroom C

Attendees (46)