Objects Conservation Services

preserving historic and cultural objects for the future


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Conservation treatment of a mummiform coffin.

The following photographs illustrate the treatment of a soot-covered mummiform coffin lid, Ptolemaic, c. 320-220 B.C.E., wood, paint, gold, 31x 23 1/2 x 67 inches, The College of Wooster Art Museum 1901.1a

The coffin was covered with soot during a fire in the early 1900's. The soot obscured most surface detail, including important hieroglyphs that might lead to the name and family history of the coffin's mummy. Kitty McManus Zurko, the Director/Curator of the College of Wooster Art Museum, was very interested in seeing the hieroglyphs for the first time.


The cleaning revealed a great deal of detail that was not visible or only partially visible before treatment. The photograph on the left is a detail of Horus, the falcon god. The photograph on the right shows some hieroglyphic text that was partially visible before the cleaning. Egyptologist Dr. Jonathan Elias, director of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, was present during the treatment to witness the revealing of any details that might help identify the coffin's mummy.

The soot was cleaned using cotton swabs dampened with distilled water. The paint on the coffin was loosely bound and was not varnished, which made it vulnerable to loss during the cleaning process. The swabs were checked throughout the cleaning to see if any of the pigment had come off the coffin. A thin layer of soot was left covering the paint layer rather than remove paint by accident.


The coffin was placed on display in the College of Wooster Art Museum a short time after the treatment was completed. After conservation, Dr. Elias was able to read the name of the coffin's owner, "ta -irty", as well as some additional information about her mother and father.


Conservation treatment of leather Native American moccasins.

The following photographs illustrate the treatment of a pair of leather Native American moccasins from the Buffalo Museum of Science


Before-treatment photograph of tops of moccasins (c9896).

A salt efflorescence was highly visible on the bottom of the right moccasin. The efflorescence was visually distracting and also indicated that the leather needed to be stabilized.



The efflorescence could be seen on the patch on the interior of the shoe as well.

Conservation intern Eileen Sullivan removing the salt efflorescence with cotton swabs dampened with distilled water. Attempts to mechanically remove the salts with brushes or dental tools or bamboo skewers were unsuccessful.

Hopefully, the cotton swabs acted as poultices and pulled salts out from below the surface of the leather.

After-treatment photograph of the moccasins. They have been monitored to check for more efflorescence.  There has been none so far.

Conservation at Old Fort Niagara.

The following photographs illustrate the treatments of archaeological artifacts from Old Fort Niagara.

Before-treatment photograph of a fragmented plate (TU 463, x-0 y-59 Level II, AT 0.67). The plate had shattered into approximately 100 pieces. Archaeology field students Kacey Page and Cassandra Ortiz, shown in the photograph above, found where all the fragments needed to be joined together. Conservator Dena Cirpili and assistant conservator Colleen Snyder adhered the fragments with a stable and reversible acrylic adhesive.

After-treatment photograph of the plate.


This copper-alloy cap plate (OFN2001 Unit 3/Unit 10, bag 210) was in many fragments, and the surface details were obscured with dirt.




Conservation intern Cynthia Albertson assisted in the cleaning, stabilization, and reconstruction of the object. The obscuring dirt was mechanically cleaned with brushes and scalpels. The metal was stabilized by inhibiting future corrosion with the application of benzotriazole and a protective acrylic coating. The fragments were then assembled with a reversible and stable adhesive.