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UT Campus Conservation Initiative

Preserving rare book, paper, and photography collections.

Realizing a bold vision for the future. The University of Texas at Austin has long been one of the world's distinguished collecting universities. Since it was founded 138 years ago, millions of objects that tell the story of the human experience have been collected by cultural organizations across campus, including the Harry Ransom Center, the Briscoe Center for American History, and a number of UT's special collection libraries.

The Ransom Center is spearheading a campus collaboration among conservators, curators, historians, artists, and scientists that promises to deepen scholarly and public insight into the cultural works housed at UT Austin. Through this initiative, we will realize the bold vision of preserving the lives of objects that tell unique stories of personal journeys, creative triumphs and struggles, global innovation, and critical moments in human history.

  • Our Vision

    One-of-kind objects are held by the University in repositories across the 40 Acres. Preserving these objects means they will be available to faculty, students, and researchers as the basis for groundbreaking international scholarship, as inspiration for curriculum and instruction, and to spark understanding and self-reflection through public programs and exhibitions.

    Undertaking a campus-wide initiative at full scale is complex. Building the conservation capacity for the University is a long-term goal requiring mindful planning and a phased approach. A framework study has recently been completed to address improvements to the Ransom Center's 50-year old facility, as well as a redesign and expansion of the Center's conservation labs. As the renovation project moves forward, it provides a well-timed opportunity to launch a campus-wide partnership to create state-of-the-art facilities to serve cultural entities on campus.

  • A Leader in Conservation

    The University began strategically investing in laboratories for the treatment of books, works on paper, and photographs at the Ransom Center in 1982. What they created was the largest research library conservation operation in the United States outside of the Library of Congress at that time.

    The Center's 40 years of experience and leadership in conservation science, its robust team of conservators and technicians, and planned expansion of state-of-the-art facilities, position us to lead a campus conservation initiative that will address the needs of one-of-a-kind objects across campus, making UT Austin a national leader in conservation practice, materials research, and public outreach.

  • Envisioning New Spaces for Treatment

    Preservation involves looking forward, and we once again have the opportunity to play a leading role in the field of conservation. A planned renovation of the Ransom Center's 50-year-old building will increase our capacity to preserve irreplaceable collections and opens a window to invest in a new, expanded conservation center to address the longstanding needs of the university's vast archival and artistic holdings.

    New building systems at the Center will make it possible to achieve optimum preservation environments for books, manuscripts, and photographs, greatly extending the life of these irreplaceable collections. The UT Austin Conservation Center at the Ransom Center will be equipped to undertake technical and scientific analysis to both serve treatment protocols and deepen understanding of the material nature and meaning of the unique collections stewarded by the University.

About the Center Explore Collections Preservation and Conservation


Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa
Associate Director for Preservation and Conservation