Ellen Promise: Philadelphia Museum of Art

12:10 p.m., July 28, 2010----This summer, I have been interning in the objects lab at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) under the guidance of conservators Sally Malenka and Melissa Meighan. The projects in which I have participated highlight the many facets of a conservator's job. Museum conservators must integrate their primary role of caring for and maintaining a collection with other goals of the organization such as education, public outreach and collection expansion.

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An assortment of weaponry is presently occupying the PMA objects lab. The museum boasts a superb collection of arms and armor, much of which was donated by the collector Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch. Highlights from this collection will be featured in an upcoming publication, and the lab is currently readying objects for this purpose.

My personal contribution has been the examination and treatment of a late eighteenth-century English presentation sword and its accompanying scabbard. The complexity of this object has exposed me to a variety of materials and ensures that I will be well occupied through the summer.

The PMA objects lab is a wonderful learning environment with interns and fellows at various stages in their careers including post-graduate, graduate, pre-program and undergraduate. In addition to my own projects, I have had the opportunity to learn about many of the objects being treated by other individuals in the lab. Non-treatment activities have included assisting in the deinstallation of a clay sculpture, documenting the condition of Korean ceramics on incoming loan and participating in the emergency stabilization of a fallen outdoor sculpture.