Entrance to the NEDCC
An unassuming building in Andover, MA holds one of the leading conservation labs in the country. Started in 1973, Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), was the first independent, conservation laboratory in the country and continues to be a trusted source for professional conservation and resources on preservation. Panopticon hosted a great visit to the NEDCC on Thursday February 26th to look at the conservation labs and to check out the new and amazing audio preservation technology, IRENE.
Julie Martin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, met us and was our guide through the various labs at the NEDCC. We first met with Frances Harrell who is a Preservation Specialist and a Simmons graduate! As part of a small staff, she is one of three people who provides preservation need assessments to cultural institutions all over the country. We had a lively discussion about what preservation issues come to the top— more often it is administrative issues, like hiring more staff, rather than an a HVAC system (that are the biggest preservation issues!). She also helps organizes and participates in workshops, webinars, and conferences like Digital Directions.
Inside the conservation lab.
Next we moved into the lab! We started by looking at the photography conservation with Amanda Maloney. She showed us her work with daguerrotypes and ambrotypes and discussed the difference between them and special issues that arise in conserving them. We then moved on to the book conservation laboratory, where we met Athena Moore, assistant conservator. She showed several amazing specimens and the different conservation issues that arise when treating them.
Another view of the labs.
The open air labs were beautiful and I think everyone left wanting to live in that studio!
We moved on to the Imaging Services where we met Terrance D’Ambrosio, Director of Imaging Services and Carly Sentieri, Associate Photographer, who showed us the large xy table. The xy table has a vacuum bed to keep materials flat. It moves on both axes, with an overhead camera. to digitize large materials. They also showed us additional labs for capturing smaller materials. They emphasized the close relationship they have with the conservation lab which allows them to both handle these materials safely as well as capture them at the optimal time. We also learned about the horrors of nitrate film. Thanks Carly!!
We ended the tour by meeting Mason Vander Lugt who operates IRENE. Mason showed us Irene which takes 2d or 3d high resolution images on “groove media” ( wax cylindars, laquer disks, shellac disks etc.) and then uses software to transform the grooves into waves, which become digital sound files. We got to hear voices from the past rise from one of his recent projects. You can hear more about IRENE in this story from NPR.
Mason demonstrates how wax cylinders are played.
Panopticon would like to thank the entire NEDCC staff for taking the time to meet with us and show us their work. We would also like to thank Jeffrey Erickson for helping us drive people to the NEDCC. Thank you!
To see all our shiny faces checkout the NEDCC Facebook page!