Next Meeting of The Pre-Columbian Society

January 10, 2015 Sarah Nunberg, principal of The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC: "The Princeton Maya Vase Conservation Project"

Sarah Nunberg, noted Conservator, was invited by Bryan Just, Peter Jay Sharpe Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas at the  Princeton Art Museum, to consider treating a group of  Ik’ kingdom vessels in preparation  for an anticipated exhibit at the Art Museum.  Over the course of eight months, Sarah examined the vessels under the microscope, removed samples for analysis, cleaned the surfaces, stabilized damaged areas, and filled losses. After 150 hours of treatment and discussion,  her conservation ultimately exposed original outlines filled with intricate details and nuanced surface qualities—and gave rise to new revelations and new questions. Ms. Nunberg discussed the decisions and difficult conservation treatment that revealed much of the original beauty of the magnificent pots displayed in  the 2012  Exhibit,  Dancing into Dreams: Maya Vase Painting of the Ik’ Kingdom at the Princeton Art Museum.
                  Sarah Nunberg, principal of The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC, has been working in art conservation since 1989.  She received a M.A. in archaeology at Yale University in 1988 where she focused on pre-Columbian ceramics and art history. For her Master’s thesis, Manufacturing Technology of Late Classic Maya Polychrome Ceramics, she worked with Maya potters in Amatanango, Mexico to learn contemporary outdoor firing techniques, which she applies to her understanding of ancient Maya polychrome pottery techniques. She continued to study ancient materials and production methods at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts where she achieved an M.A. in art history and an Advanced Certificate in Conservation of Works of Art in 1997. In her conservation work, Sarah has published on deterioration of ceramics and stone due to soluble salts in 1996 -1999, fill materials on Roman mosaics and Etruscan ceramic production methods in 1999, William Grueby Ceramic Tile Production Methods, in 2009, 2010, Deterioration of Plastics in 2011 and sustainable practices in conservation in 2010, 2011, and 2015 pending. Sarah has worked extensively with clay by hand and on the potter’s wheel, and has continued her interest in ceramic methodology through out her career. Recently, Sarah has taught materials degradation at Pratt Institute and lectured at NYU Institute of Fine Art.  Sarah is a Professional Associate of the American Institute of Conservation and served on the Sustainability Committee for five years, including one term as committee chair.  She is a conservator in private practice and is based in her studio in Brooklyn, NY where she specializes in preservation and treatment of archaeological and ethnographic objects made of wood, stone, metal, glass and ceramic along with preventive conservation and environmental control.

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