Globe collection to be preserved

After Yale University Library received a report from a private conservator about the condition of the globes in its Lanman Globe Collection, Library administrators are now considering how best to pursue the collection’s conservation.
After Yale University Library received a report from a private conservator about the condition of the globes in its Lanman Globe Collection, Library administrators are now considering how best to pursue the collection’s conservation. Photo by Josephine Massey.

Last September, the Yale University Library commissioned T.K. McClintock, a private conservator, to assess the conditions of the roughly three dozen globes in the Library’s Lanman Globe Collection.

After receiving the report from McClintock in December, Library administrators are contemplating how best to preserve the globe collection, said George Miles, a curator at the Beinecke. Donated to the Library in 1980 from a cartographic collection and by Jonathan Lanman ’40 MED ’43, the collection in the Library’s Map Department holds globes dating from the late 17th century and created by renowned European globemakers such as Willem Blaeu and Vincenzo Coronelli. Christine McCarthy, chief conservator for the Library’s Preservation Department, said she will meet with Miles and Map Department Director Abraham Parrish over the summer to discuss recommendations from the December report and to select the first globes for conservation treatment.

“Conservation treatment is as much a decision-making process as it is a craft and there is always a continuum or range of possible options for any object that could be acceptable,” McCarthy said in an email last week. “We now have a more complete and accurate view of both the individual conservation needs of the globes and improvements we can make to their storage, handling, and upkeep for long-term access.”

The Library first considered a conservation assessment for the globes in summer 2009. McCarthy drafted a proposal for the project in early 2010, which called for consultation with a globe conservation specialist. She added that the Library decided to bring in a private specialist because “a high degree of connoisseurship and experience is necessary to accurately diagnose issues and suggest solutions” for objects like globes.

Though Allan Bulley III ’86 donated funds for the specialist’s assessment in honor of his 25th class reunion last May, McCarthy said the Library will need to raise additional money to carry out much of the prescribed work. The first globes treated will be those with the greatest risk of “sustaining significant loss,” Miles said, adding that all of the globes will be preserved eventually. McCarthy said the “first, highest-priority treatments” will also be funded through Bulley’s donation.

To carry out all of the recommendations, the Library would need to spend nearly $300,000, McCarthy said. Roughly half that amount would be needed to address “the minimum level of recommended treatment for the collection,” she said, adding that the globes have different values depending on their rarity, scholarly appeal and monetary worth.

“We must choose wisely and weigh all aspects of each of the globe’s value and degree of improvement that can reasonably be expected through treatment,” she said.

Currently, the condition of the globes ranges from “very good” to “quite compromised,” McClintock said in a Wednesday email. His firm, the Somerville, Mass.-based TKM Studios, will perform the conservation.

The conservation work is intended partly to improve the legibility of the globes in the collection, and will also allow the globes to be handled and photographed more easily, McCarthy said. Treatments will include surface cleaning, repairing stands, treating plaster and paper components and removing varnish.

“Improving the legibility through cleaning and varnish removal will allow more information to be capture more clearly through imaging,” McCarthy said.

The Map Collection is located on the seventh floor of Sterling Memorial Library.

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