Medieval Manuscripts, Exhibition Preparation and Installation

This project subsidized Conservation’s active role in the exhibit preparation and installation of the UI Museum of Art’s exhibit entitled Monks to Masters: the Medieval Manuscript and the Early Printed Book, curated by David Schoonover, Greg Prickman and Kathleen Kamerick, which was held at the UI Art Museum, June 23-October 7, 2007.

Monks to Masters Exhibit

The exhibition included up to 100 medieval manuscripts and leaves from the UIMA and University Libraries. These collections point to characteristics of their production, use, illumination, script, and status as medieval cultural symbols and economic artifacts. Among these rarely seen objects are devotional books, books of hours, papal prophecies, English charters, a Gutenberg Bible leaf, and several medical classics.

The project included:

Evaluation and Conservation. This phase of the project involved an initial review of the selected exhibit materials and their page openings, with particular attention being paid to the evaluation of the illuminated manuscripts taking into consideration their possible need for pigment consolidation, as well as other conservation treatments for problematic volumes. Several frequently studied manuscripts were found to be in need of conservation treatment and/or enclosures to stabilize them for exhibition and continuing scholarly use.  The volumes treated include:

  • Lucan’s Pharsalia
  • Cicero, Doubtful and Spurius works
  • Johannis de Abbatsvilla

Exhibit Preparation. This activity included an assessment of the proposed display and the development of cradling and strapping methods to best accommodate the item in a safe manner.   Preparation involved:

  • assigning / creating custom book cradles which were suitable to the needs of medieval bindings
  • string-tension mounting, matting and framing of manuscript leaves
  • providing straping and supports for all exhibited items

Exhibit Installation / De-installation. The Conservation Department worked actively with Special Collections Assistant Director Greg Prickman and UI Museum of Art staff on the installation of all UIL items, insuring a safe and secure installation as well as a stable exhibition environment which was also continually monitored throughout the course of the exhibit. Upon de-installation, Conservation gave special attention to acclimatizing the books and leaves to their home environment at the UI Libraries.

Estimated Project costs: $5,520