17 Jun 2021

Conservation Students at West Dean College experience placements with a difference

Creative solutions where made when the pandemic threatened to put a pause on external placements

© West Dean College

When lockdown looked set to put a pause on external placements for MA Conservation Studies students at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, the College benefitted from several creative solutions, enabling students to continue to gain valuable work experience.

Students specialising in Ceramics and Related Materials undertook an online work placement for five weeks with The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning in New York. The online placement was coordinated by Icon member Jasmina Vuckovic ACR and colleagues from West Dean College and the Museum, and it was the first of its kind for both institutions. One task involved Roman archaeological glass objects donated for the task to be assessed during the placement. Conservation treatments were considered and discussed among the team of students and Museum staff.

Another creative opportunity for students specialising in Books, Ceramics and Metals was to undertake their placement at the College itself and benefit from access to the West Dean Collection. Students worked closely with the Collections team and were tasked with condition reporting, surveying, documenting and cataloguing items; with unique access to various significant objects in the collection.

Books students conducted a detailed survey of the College’s William Beckford Book Collection, discussing everything from bindings to the ethics of collecting. They then went on to conduct a sample survey of the House Collection, which includes some rare 16th century editions.

Rose Zhou, MA Conservation Studies (Ceramics and Related Materials), said:

"For me as a ceramics conservation student, it’s the first opportunity for me to carry out a condition survey and to work on objects within an historic house context. While archival materials and various mounting systems from original display settings linked the objects with the history of the house and the family, the objects themselves also tell their own stories through body type, design, labels, and old repairs. Although the work placement started tentatively, it really benefited me with experiences that I would otherwise not acquire."

The story continues in the August issue of Icon News where you can find an article by Jasmina Vuckovic ACR describing the internship undertaken with the Corning Museum of Glass in New York

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