As part of her third-year internship with MCI, Melissa had several opportunities to exchange with international conservation professionals.
Uzbeki Conservation Professionals
At the start of her internship, Melissa assisted her supervisor, Becky, by compiling a resource sheet for collections professionals in Uzbekistan. Becky was traveling there for work to consult on preventive conservation and wanted the opportunity to share useful resources. Melissa knew that language might be a barrier, so she focused on resources that were not too heavy on reading and ones that provided useful visuals such as videos.
In addition to this resource sheet, Melissa also was able to meet several delegates from the country who visited MCI for a day. While there, Melissa gave a presentation about conservation graduate training.
Visiting the Whittle School in DC
Melissa joined Shannon Brogdon-Granthom and Christine France from MCI to visit a private high school in North D.C. to discuss conservation and heritage science. It is an “Experiential learning” school, where students have the opportunity to learn about subjects through professionals in highly interdisciplinary fields—particularly in the sciences. The theme for the semester is “repatriation,” and Melissa and the others had to prepare talks and activities for the students relating to this. For Melissa’s portion, she discussed the issue of pesticides on museum collections. She went a bit into the history of pesticides in the agricultural industry and the development of integrated pest management. Melissa had the students discuss why conservators might be concerned with pests within museums and why people in the past sought out pesticides. They discussed some of the larger issues at hand, particularly when considering the human safety and environmental ramifications of repatriating contaminated objects to first nations people.
Mongolian Conservation Professionals
From February 10th through February 14th 2020, three conservators from Mongolia visited MCI. Their trip was funded through the American Center for Mongolian Studies, and afforded them an opportunity to present their research at a conference in DC followed by textile conservation training organized by both MCI and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along with MCI textile conservator, Mary Ballard, Melissa acted as a host and joined the visitors for their activities during the week. The week included some of the following activities:
- Giving a presentation on graduate training and the preventive conservation major in the USA (see above slideshow)
- Presenting on the agents of deterioration using original illustrations (See Figure 1)
- Assisting Mary Ballard in a textile handling and storage workshop
- Touring the storage and conservation areas of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Museum and the National Museum of Asian Art
- Visiting storage, conservation, and the museum at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- Touring the National Museum of the American Indian‘s Cultural Resource Center and the storage pods for the Department of Anthropology within the National Museum of Natural History
- Assisting Mary Ballard in a workshop on preventive conservation tools including reading a psychrometric chart and using blue wool standards
Stemming the Tide: Global Strategies for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Through Climate Change
From March 4-6 Melissa attended the conference, “Stemming the Tide: Global Strategies for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Through Climate Change” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Melissa assisted the conference organizers as a volunteer. Melissa was an official note-taker on the Friday break-out session on Built Heritage. Her notes were given to the breakout facilitator to assist in her writing for the ultimate publication of the conference. You can watch the full conference presentations here.