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Museum Monday: Inaugural Season of C3 a Big Success

September 17, 2018
By Nicolette B. Meister

Beloit College boldly launched an exciting new summer program in July. The Center for Collections Care (C3) ran three classes, attended by 23 participants, who visited Beloit from nine states. C3 provides hands-on preventive care training for collection professionals, taught by conservation specialists from around the country. C3’s distinctive edge is our museum-and-collection rich residential campus. Nowhere else can museum, library, and archive professionals gain new skills, learn new preservation techniques, and acquire advanced knowledge in a residential, collection-rich environment.

Drew Agnew’18 and AmySue Greiff’18 worked closely with Nicolette Meister, C3 faculty director, to prepare work spaces, facilitate access to collections, and ensure coffee and snacks were plentiful. They also sat in on two of the classes and socialized with participants and instructors, giving them invaluable networking opportunities and access to advanced training.

Inaugural Season of C3 a Big Success photo 1
Jamie Draper, Gerald Ford Museum, surface cleaning a wool cap.

The Mount Making for Exhibits and Introduction to Textile Conservation classes were taught in July. The mount making class was able to take advantage of the expansive workspace, tools, and equipment in the sculpture studio in the Art Annex. Participants worked with tiny drill bits to create pinned mounts, learned how to cut, bend, and buff acrylic, and learned how to braze metal to create custom mounts. Textile conservation participants learned how to identify fibers through burn tests, surface cleaned textiles, learned conservation stitches, and conducted assessments using Logan Museum textiles. Participants in Introduction to Paper Conservation class, which was taught in August, were all employees of the National Archives and Records Administration branch in St. Louis. They learned how to test the solubility of inks, wash paper, mend tears, and fill losses using different types of Japanese tissue, and how to use solvents and poultices for adhesive removal.

Inaugural Season of C3 a Big Success photo 2
Earl Lock, mount making instructor, demonstrating acrylic shaping to Shawn Fausett, History Colorado Center.

Our exceptional instructors, their passion and enthusiasm for their work, and their expertise were major factors in the success of our first season. Our thanks to Pam Gaible (Field Museum of Natural History) and Earl Lock, Camille Breeze, and Morgan Capone (Museum Textile Services), and Jennifer Hain Teper (University of Illinois Libraries). Thanks also to Nuria Sanjuan, director of summer programs, for her endless support and encouragement.

Inaugural Season of C3 a Big Success photo 3
Jennifer Hain Teper, paper conservator, demonstrating paper washing to participants from the National Archives.

Given the success of our inaugural season, C3 will expand to offer 10 courses in the summer of 2019. C3 also hopes to develop courses to meet the needs of tribal nations building new cultural centers and museums in Wisconsin. New courses are being developed now and will be shared with colleagues at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Local History Conference in October and at the Wisconsin Federations of Museums annual conference in November.

Here’s what participants had to say about their experiences in a survey:

  • “The hands-on lab portions solidified the teaching and made me feel capable of taking these techniques to my institution.”
  • “I found this class broadened my approach to the items I work with. I will look more carefully…this will influence future decisions about treating our artifacts and collections.”
  • “The tour of storage and the ability to work with a teaching collection was invaluable.”
  • “Gorgeous storage! #workgoals”