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The Challenge of a Lifetime: Conserving the Archimedes Palimpsest

Saturday, November 12, 2011
01:30 PM–02:15 PM

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Abigail Quandt, Walters Senior Conservator of Manuscripts and Rare Books and essential Archimedes team member, began treatment of the manuscript in February 2000. The task was daunting given the deteriorated condition of the parchment folios. New techniques were developed to remove traditional and modern adhesives so that the manuscript could be disbound and prepared for digital imaging. Further innovations were made for the final repair and mounting of the leaves in custom frames. Scientific analysis of inks, pigments, adhesives and parchment informed the treatment that was undertaken while Quandt’s technical study of the folios contributed to a greater understanding of how the original seven manuscripts and the palimpsest were made. Referring to detailed notes and photographs taken during the project Quandt will share an account of her work on the Archimedes Palimpsest.

About the Speaker

Abigail Quandt received her M.Sc. and Diploma in Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation in 1982, after having completed a one year internship in rare book conservation at the Library of Congress. This was followed by an advanced internship at Trinity College Library, Dublin from 1982-1984 and a brief period of study with the English bookbinder and conservator Roger Powell.

Quandt first began working at the Walters Art Museum in early 1984, as a visiting manuscripts conservator, and joined the staff of the museum in 1989. She specializes in the conservation of illuminated manuscripts on parchment and has lectured and published on this and related topics. Sponsored by the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies and the former Conservation Analytical Laboratory (now Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education), Quandt has taught a five-day course on parchment conservation for practicing book and paper conservators. She was also the co-compiler of a chapter on parchment for the AIC Paper Conservation Catalog, published in 1994.

Since early 1999 Quandt has been the lead conservator for the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, whose focus is to conserve, image and transcribe the earliest surviving copy of Archimedes’ treatises, which dates to the 10th century. Quandt has acted both as consultant and team leader for significant manuscript treatment projects outside the Walters, and has gained an international reputation as an expert in the conservation of medieval manuscripts on parchment.

This talk is session two of the half day forum focused on the special exhibition Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes.

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