Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2010 Newsletter

$1 million gift supports conservation and preservation programs

Three people examining a photograph. Click to enlarge.

Suzanne Deal Booth, right, examines a photographic portrait of Wassily Kandinsky by Hugo Erfurth with Barbara Brown, Head of Photograph Conservation, and Jim Stroud, Associate Director for Conservation and Building Management.

Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth Provide $1 Million Gift for Ransom Center's Conservation and Preservation Programs

A transformational capital campaign gift from the Booth Heritage Foundation has established a Conservation and Preservation Programs Excellence Fund, supporting initiatives such as staff participation in workshops, meetings, conferences, and programs; the development of a digital preservation management system; and the establishment of internships in conservation and digital preservation.

"David and I have long been committed to promoting visual and cultural heritage and to supporting preservation and conservation projects worldwide," said Suzanne Deal Booth, a member of the Ransom Center's Advisory Council.

Deal Booth, an art historian and art conservator, and her husband David G. Booth, founder and CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors, founded the Friends of Heritage Preservation in 1989. With 29 preservation and conservation projects spanning four continents, the organization has helped restore works as varied as an eighteenth-century chapel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; important old master paintings and sculptures in Europe; Buddhist temples in India; and modern concrete sculptures by Donald Judd.

Deal Booth cited her mentor Dominique de Menil—an internationally known art collector and philanthropist—and her own student experiences excavating archaeological sites among the influences that shaped her interests in preservation.

"The Ransom Center's conservation program has long enjoyed an international reputation for excellence and leadership in the field, a position that will be fortified and enriched by this generous gift from the Booth Heritage Foundation," said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. "Suzanne was once a student intern, and she understands the importance of giving young people the same opportunities she experienced—this gift truly does continue a cycle," he added.

The gift will also enable the recruitment of two new Ransom Center staff members in photograph conservation and digital preservation, providing funding while the Center seeks to endow the positions permanently.

The new associate conservator of photographs will work with the senior photograph conservator to expand the volume of photograph conservation, to increase the number of interns and students trained in photograph conservation skills, and to ensure that expertise and knowledge are shared with peers, interns, students, and future generations of conservators.

The gift will enable the Center to hire a new digital preservation coordinator who will engage with library, archive, and museum managers at the University and worldwide in efforts to develop standards and best practices for the preservation and management of digital collections. The coordinator will collaborate with Ransom Center staff on the acquisition, preservation, description, access, and exhibition of digital collections.

During a recent visit to the Center's conservation department, Suzanne Deal Booth discussed her recent gift and interest in preservation.

Ransom Edition: You have a history of supporting many cultural organizations through your work and philanthropy. Why did you choose the Ransom Center?

Deal Booth: I am a native Texan and, with my family, recently relocated to Austin. My field being art preservation, it seemed a natural fit with the Ransom Center's established conservation and preservation program. I really wanted to be involved in a place where I could make a difference.

Ransom Edition: While you were an art student, you had internships at very prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Centre Pompidou. Would you speak to the role internships have played in shaping your interests and influencing your philanthropy?

Deal Booth: My internships were critical in terms of training [and provided] an opportunity to be exposed to great works of arts and to different types of teaching from great institutions in this country and abroad. As a scholarship student and on fellowships, I felt appreciated and that the work I was doing was important.

Ransom Edition: What are some of your favorite items among the Ransom Center's collections?

Deal Booth: I have so many, but I am most familiar with the photography collections, [and] I absolutely adore the nineteenth-century materials. I have been impressed with the breadth of the Magnum archive, and I look forward to becoming more familiar with the literary holdings.

Learn more about the capital campaign

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