2021 MRCG Meeting in Indianapolis

The Indiana State Library
The Indiana State Library

We are excited to share details for our November 2021 meeting, which we plan to hold at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis. We hope and expect that by November we will be ready to gather in person again!

Meeting dates: November 12-14, 2021

– Bruker Mobile Conservation Lab Workshop
– Conservation Gels Workshop
– ECPN Portfolio Day
– A day and a half of fascinating talks from your colleagues
– Receptions at the Eitljorg Museum and Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
– Lab Tours
– And more!

Registration details to follow soon.

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Position Available: Materials Care Assistant, Northwestern University Library

The Materials Care Assistant is an important member of the University Libraries Preservation Work Group.  This position has key responsibilities including coordinating housing projects, tracking collections material, and participating in preventative conservation initiatives.  Additional responsibilities include managing intra-library aspects of exhibits and collaborating with various stakeholders.

For a full description of the position please go to: https://www.library.northwestern.edu/about/library-jobs/staff-jobs/job-detail.html#247

The base salary for this permanent positon starts at $21.23/hour, 37.5 hours per week.  Professional development funding is available.  First consideration given to applications received before April 15, 2021.  If you have any questions about the position, please contact: Library Organizational Development <library-orgdevelopment@northwestern.edu>

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Job post: paper conservator at the Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum seeks a collegial, collaborative, and energetic paper conservator to join its dynamic conservation team. As part of its strategic plan, the Museum has initiated a collection condition survey of its works of art on paper. This project is planned for a two-year period, 2021-2023. The initiative will include review of works of art on paper in the Prints Drawings & Photographs and Asian collections which together number over 17,000 works.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

·  Assess and document physical condition, recommend future treatment, propose improved storage, and evaluate risk factors of the Museum’s works of art on paper permanent collections.

·  Assess and document the condition of works of art on paper in the collection using the museum’s electronic condition reporting format.

·  Recommend future treatment to enhance the stability and preservation of the surveyed works of art on paper.

·  Propose improved storage conditions and housing for surveyed works of art on paper in both prose and illustrated formats as appropriate.

·  Ensure all documentation is properly attached to and retrievable from the museum’s collection database (TMS) in collaboration with the Registration department.

Required Qualifications: Degree from an accredited conservation program or its equivalent and a minimum of 2-6 years of experience in paper conservation is required. Experience examining and documenting in a rapid high-volume workflow preferred.

All applicants should submit both a cover letter and resume for consideration.

Additional Details:

·  Minimum of Range: $50,444 annual salary

·  Status: Limited Term full-time. 2-year term.

Applicants should apply through the Museum’s portal by clicking on the following link (Job opportunity at Saint Louis Art Museum – Project Conservator, Paper). Decisions about applicants will be made in the next month and onboarding would take place as soon as possible. Additional questions regarding the position or the collection should be directed to the Head of Conservation – hugh.shockey@slam.org.

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Time to register for our Fall/Winter lecture series!

The lecture series has ended; stay tuned for recordings of the talks (exclusive of Dr. Cathleen Baker’s lecture on Audubon’s Birds of America, which could not be recorded), which will be available to MRCG and CACG members.


It is now time to register for our 2020 lecture series. The pandemic may have cancelled our in person Annual Symposium, but we’re coming back strong with an amazing series of virtual talks!

Our business meeting will take place after the October 21st 2020 talk.

For more information and to register, click here!

Each event has its own registration on Eventbrite, so you can pick and choose. After receiving your ticket, you will be emailed the Zoom link for the event.

Please remember that you have to be a MRCG or CACG member to be able to attend these events. You can become a member easily, and for a very reasonable price, by clicking on the links below.

Click here to become a MRCG member!

Click here to become a CACG member!

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The Conservation of 6 Rose O’Neill Kewpie Full-page Sunday Weekly Comics

By Thomas Edmondson and Sarah Buhr
Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services, LLC, Kansas City, MO
Springfield Art Museum

Before Mickey Mouse, there was the Kewpie doll – a much beloved elf-child created by illustrator Rose O’Neill. The Kewpie was introduced to the world in 1909 in a cartoon published in the Ladies’ Home Journal. The frolics and impish pursuits of the Kewpies soon became so popular that they moved off the page 1 and into doll form, eventually finding their way onto objects as disparate as fine china, door knockers, chocolates, and hood ornaments. Their subsequent popularity made O’Neill a millionaire.

Rose O’Neill

However, the Kewpie doll was just one of the many creative pursuits of Rose O’Neill. She was also an illustrator, author, poet, painter, sculptor, inventor, songwriter, pianist, suffragist, bohemian, and businesswoman. She maintained various homes – New York, Connecticut, the Missouri Ozarks, and Capri, Italy – where she entertained and supported the likes of Martha Graham, Kahlil Gibran, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Isadora Duncan, and many others.  Twice-divorced, she was a cultural reformer who advocated for women’s suffrage and dress reform. Her endeavors span across media and material, personifying a game she invented – “Frolic of the Mind” – where one jumped from topic to topic, following the creative trajectory of one’s thoughts

A lover of wordplay, O’Neill named her creations “kewpies” as a play on “Cupid” – the Roman god of love, known as a prankster. She gave her Kewpies mischievous personalities, but rather than play pranks on people, they were tasked to ‘do good deeds in a funny way.’ The Kewpie was the first novelty toy distributed around the world. O’Neill wrote four Kewpie books,1 published several Kewpie Coloring Books, and in later years even operated a brick and mortar Kewpie doll shop in New York.2

O’Neill’s Kewpie fame allowed her to live a lavish lifestyle on her own terms with extensive travel, multiple homes, fine art and antiques, but her generous nature directed many of her millions to those in need – from steadfast support of her large family to starving artists all over the world. She retired to the Ozarks in the 1940s and died, almost penniless, having practically given away most of her fortune.

Issue of the weekly Sunday, July 7,1918

This is a group of six artist’s proofs for the weekly Sunday full-page color section of the comics drawn and colored by O’Neill, illustrating the antics and adventures of the Kewpies as told in verse, also by O’Neill, that were published in 1918.  They are printed in black ink and colored in varying degrees with watercolor pigments.  All are on an off-white mechanical wood pulp newsprint paper support approximately 22” x 17” in size.  There is a delineated masthead panel at the top of each page, three with fairly straightforward black borders, and three with more decorative and colored outlines; and four have colored embellishments depicting Kewpies in various playful or sweetly innocent activities.  The masthead panels for two are blank.  All panels are labeled “Color Section” at the top, and are dated at the bottom.  All of the pages are titled between the masthead panel and the main illustration panel.  The artist copyrighted four pages in the bottom right corner of each illustration panel, one is copyrighted in the bottom left corner and one at the bottom center of the panel.  One comic has a graphite editorial notation in the right bottom margin, “note black spot – / take out”, with a line drawn into the design to the printed spot.  Another also has a graphite editorial notation in the upper right margin, “Blue snow”, with lines drawn to two areas that are colored brown.  Each of the pages is numbered in graphite in the right top margin.  One comic has a graphite inscription in cursive on the verso upper left corner:  “[Wm] J. Habel / 2366 Grand Concourse / Bronx, N.Y. City”.  The artist incorporated her name into most of the little vignettes, often in a manner that related directly to what is being depicted in the illustration.

All of the paper supports are soiled overall recto and verso, ranging from a thin gray veil to heavily soiled. Four pages have a pattern of fold/crease lines throughout that may have been put in when the pages were sent to the artist for coloring after the initial printing. This is suggested by how the applied pigments are caught in disturbed paper fibers with some localized and small spots of bleeding. All of the pages have varying degrees of dog-eared and/or missing corners, and crumpled top and bottom margins and edge tears. One illustration has had the upper left quadrant/corner torn off and mended back on with a modern pressure sensitive adhesive tape, #.5 & .6 have corresponding edge tears in the left bottom margin, and one page has an edge tear in the left center of the top margin that extends about 2 inches into the sheet to the top border of the masthead panel. All of the supports have some degree of discoloration and/or staining. The soiling and discoloration/staining are indications of acid contamination, which is also likely as an inherent vice from the paper manufacturing process. There are ink and watercolor handling smudges and splatters in the margins and rectos of four pages, some of which is not necessarily damage as it must have happened during the printing. The same is true where there is strikethrough and/or transfer of the printing ink.

All of the applied pigments appear to be in good condition with no obvious fading. Random spot-testing of the watercolors for water sensitivity were inconclusive, with the reds ranging from stable to water sensitive. As mentioned above, where the watercolors appear blotchy along creases and fold lines where the paper fibers are disturbed should not be considered damage but rather evidence of the artist’s working process.

Although some of the pieces are more soiled than others, all are in need of thorough dry surface cleaning to make them more suited to handling, proper storage, and display. All six pages would benefit greatly from some level of washing to reduce acidity and some discoloration/staining, but this will be somewhat limited due to expected solubility issues with some of the pigments, which will require additional testing before proceeding. Fold lines and creases in four of the pages are disfiguring but since they are most likely evidence of how the pages were handled during the creation process, efforts to minimize them should be carefully executed so that this evidence is not totally removed and yet leave the pages more aesthetically enhanced. Dog-eared corners and other fold-overs should be relaxed and flattened. Pressure sensitive adhesive tape mends should be removed, and all tears should be properly repaired. The goal of this conservation project is to address the condition issues that have been identified in such a way that will protect the art historical elements/properties while optimizing the aesthetic properties. Stay tuned for the completion of this fun project!

1.The Kewpies and Dotty Darling (1912), The Kewpies, Their Book (1913), The Kewpie Kutouts (1914) and The Kewpies and the Runaway Baby (1928).
2. Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie Shop opened at No. 646 A. Madison Avenue, New York, New York in 1925.

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