Today’s post is by 2018 MRCG Emerging Professionals Scholarship winner Keara Teeter, a Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation Program graduate student and third-year intern at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Here she describes the reception and tour enjoyed by MRCG Annual Symposium attendees this November at the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center.
Following the first full day of talks at the Saint Louis Art Museum, symposium attendees were treated to an evening reception hosted by the Missouri Historical Society (MHS) Library and Research Center (LRC). The LRC is a major repository for both the local history of St. Louis and the state of Missouri, as well as for regional history about the Louisiana Purchase and the American West. The reception was held in the main lobby and was catered with delicious refreshments including a variety of cheeses, meats, fruits, and wines.
Touring the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center: the Reading Room.
After people had an opportunity to eat, drink, and mingle, Christopher Gordon, Director of Library and Collections, invited the MRCG members into the Margaret Blanke Grigg Reading Room. He introduced everyone to the MHS library collection, which encompasses over 100,000 volumes, 7,900 linear feet of documents, and over 1 million photographs and prints. In addition, this center houses over 175,000 culturally valuable artifacts. The LRC genealogical records are a particularly cherished resource as many guests have scheduled research appointments to review them.
The Reading Room’s original plasterwork dome.
The historic building housing this collection was originally constructed in the 1920s as a Byzantine-style synagogue. One of the prominent features of this synagogue was the 40-foot copper dome, which is visible from Skinker Boulevard and across the street in Forest Park. The building was sold to MHS by the United Hebrew Congregation in 1989, and MHS spent the following three years working on the renovation and restoration. One major project was to restore the Judaic plasterwork and gilding inside the dome; this was exquisitely carried out by Tom Sater of the firm Artisan Decorators. The restored dome is now the centerpiece above the Margaret Blanke Grigg Reading Room.
After Mr. Gordon’s introduction, MRCG members were divided into smaller groups and brought downstairs on two behind-the-scenes tours. In museum storage, we were able to see collection items such as historic Missourian looms, a dog sledge used on one of Admiral Robert Peary’s expeditions to the North Pole, and a 9’x12′ hand-carved frame from the Charles A. Lindbergh donation. Upon arriving at the conservation lab, we encountered a variety of objects including an Aztec incense burner, Native American beaded knife sheath and belt, Mexican silver bowl, tortoise shell necklace and pendant, and a steamboat ship model. There were also X-radiographic images from the technical examination of Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s oil on canvas Flores Mexicanas, which will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Missouri History Museum.
Conservator Crista Pack gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the Objects Conservation Lab at the MHS Library and Research Center.
Conservator Alice Paterakis explains her research during a tour of the Objects Conservation Lab at the MHS Library and Research Center.
This Saturday reception was made possible by generous support from the Missouri Historical Society. MRCG would like to thank the MHS employees who helped organize the event: Christopher Gordon, Crista Pack, Darlene Sugerman, Shannon Meyer, Randy Blomquist, Amanda Bailey, Hattie Felton, Greg Niemann, and Alice Paterakis. This was an experience that provided a quintessential look into the history of St. Louis, the city that hosted this year’s MRCG Symposium. You can learn more about the Missouri Historical Society, the Library and Research Center, and the Missouri History Museum by following @mohistlibrary and @mohistmuseum on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.