Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Photograph Conservation

Conservator in the Photo Conservation Lab. Click to enlarge.

Barbara Brown examines the condition of a silver gelatin
photograph of Ivy Compton-Burnett (ca. mid- to late-1950s)
prior to treatment. In the foreground in the oval frame, is a
hand-colored solar enlargement portrait of an unidentified man,
dating from sometime in the late 19th to early 20th century.
It is awaiting examination and treatment.

The Photograph Conservation Lab is responsible for conservation treatments and physical stabilization of photographic materials in the Ransom Center’s Photography Department and throughout the Center’s holdings, with the goal of ensuring that these materials will be available for the appreciation and study of future generations. The laboratory staff consults with librarians and curators from Ransom Center departments on the condition of photographic materials in their collections and the treatment, safe handling and storage requirements of those materials.

Items that are chosen for exhibition or for loan to other institutions are assessed for conservation treatment or for special shipping and exhibition requirements. In addition to work related to the Center’s many exhibitions and loans, the Photograph Conservation staff is responsible for treatment of photographic materials identified on the annual priority lists, and serves as an information and educational resource for the Ransom Center and for the public at large.

Among recent projects, the Photograph Conservation Lab has collaborated with the Book Conservation Lab on its survey of the albums in the Photography Collection. The album survey studies binding structures and components, their condition, photographic processes represented and the condition of the prints, performs minor stabilization treatments, and provides suitable housing.

Over the past several years Exhibit and Photograph Conservation staff have developed improved environmental monitoring systems and a fiber optic lighting system for the display cabinet of the Niépce heliograph (The World's First Photograph).