Conservators discuss treatment

Chief Conservator Renée Stein and Mellon Foundation Advanced Fellow in Conservation Jessica Betz Abel discuss the treatment of a Koranic board.

In December 2018 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Emory University $650,000 to continue the Mellon Fellowship in Object-Centered Curatorial Research, a partnership among the Art History Department, Carlos Museum, and High Museum of Art.

The grant’s co-principal investigators are Dr. Sarah McPhee, Winship Distinguished Research Professor and chair of the Art History Department, and Renée Stein, Carlos Museum chief conservator.

This award is the third renewal of the grant, which has expanded and evolved since its original iteration in 2012. Emory was among the first participants in this Mellon Foundation initiative to promote curatorial training for art history graduate students. There are currently more than two dozen university and museum partnerships across the country that participate in this initiative. 

The Mellon Fellowship in Object-Centered Curatorial Research accepts up to three art history graduate students to spend a year researching specific works of art in either of the two museum collections. Research projects are proposed by students and consider both art historical and technical questions.

Kelin Michael and Ellen Archie of the Art History Department have been selected as fellows, and both will study objects from Carlos Museum collections. Michael will study a group of Visigothic inlaid metalwork objects, including a gilt copper alloy buckle with garnet and glass inlays, and Archie will focus on a pair of Hellenistic mule-head furniture fittings made from bronze and inlaid with silver. 

New to this renewal phase is a seminar series led by curators from both the Carlos Museum and the High Museum of Art, which will focus on topics relevant to curatorial work such as donor stewardship, collection building, and exhibition planning. The series will provide interns at both museums with opportunities for shared learning and networking.

Dr. Amanda Hellman, Carlos Museum curator of African art, will work with the Goizueta Business School to create a new professional development workshop open to all graduate students in the Art History Department.

One of only a few institutions able to offer a conservation component, the Carlos Museum will continue to support the fellows through its Parsons Conservation Laboratory. The Mellon Foundation generously supports the laboratory through a full-time Advanced Conservation Fellowship. These fellows are emerging professionals who have recently earned a Masters degree in conservation and spend two years at the Carlos Museum, during which time they carry out treatment and research projects and assist art history fellows with technical investigations.

This renewal of the grant will also enable the purchase of new laboratory equipment and consultation with conservation scientists.