Paper Lab: Training 2002

Enzymes and their Use in Conservation: A Lecture and Workshop Series for Mid-Career Conservators (Hal Erickson, Scientist, University of Texas at Austin)
July 23-25, 2002

This course was sponsored by the American Institute for Conservation in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education; the Smithsonian Institution Libraries; the Preservation and Conservation Studies Program, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, The University of Texas at Austin; and the Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress. The course focused on one of the most intransigent problems in the stabilization and treatment of book and paper collections: the removal of adhesives that have become insoluble because of cross-linking. This three-day course updated mid-career conservators on the nature, properties, and use of enzymes used to breakdown such adhesives. This course consisted of an introductory day of lectures on enzymes, including overviews of prerequisite concepts, followed by two days of morning lectures on specific classes of enzymes. Over 30 conservators attended these lectures.

Paper training course
Hal Erickson lecturing on enzymes to over 30 conservators in SCMRE's Theater

The course also had two afternoon workshops focused on testing enzyme activity on cross-linked adhesives. Twelve participants gained an understanding of amylase, protease, lipsase, and chitinase enzymes that will aid them in evaluating adhesive residues and matching enzymes to types of adhesives requiring removal, as well as how to select, order, test and use enzymes in treatment.

Paper training course
Hal Erickson demonstrating enzyme use in SCMRE Paper Conservation Laboratory

Paper training course
Participants and pH meters used to prepare optimum environment for enzyme use

The program was part of AIC's new "Current Issues" series of workshops for mid-career conservators. The program is supported by an endowment grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works.