MAR 12 | WATTS Lecture: Abigail Quandt, “Bookish Business: Thirty Years of Conserving Medieval Manuscripts.”

JDP_4576MAR 12 | Lecture: Abigail Quandt, Senior Conservator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, Walters Art Museum, Bookish Business: Thirty Years of Conserving Medieval Manuscripts. Free and open to the public. The John Carter Brown Library Macmillan Reading Room, 6:00 p.m.

FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (refreshments served)

Medieval manuscripts are complex functional objects, usually made by groups of anonymous craftsmen working in the service of the Church or a wealthy patron.  Depending on the intended use of a given manuscript the materials employed in its production might range in quality from mediocre to highly refined, and its final appearance from plain to elaborate.  Conservators responsible for the preservation of medieval manuscripts should have an understanding of the socio-economic environment in which these objects were made and should be intimately familiar with the materials and techniques used in their manufacture.

Evidence of use and of alterations that may have been undertaken by various owners over the lifetime of a manuscript must be recorded and preserved wherever possible.  Finally, the conservator should draw on the latest scientific research and analytical tools at their disposal so as to accurately evaluate the nature and extent of deterioration of the manuscript, and to make informed decisions on treatment methods to be employed.  Ms. Quandt will present an overview of the topic, drawing on her thirty years of experience conserving medieval manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum and in other public and private collections.  Case histories to be described include such significant manuscripts as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, the Walters’ Rochester Bible, and the privately owned Archimedes Palimpsest.

Abigail Quandt received a M.Sc. and Diploma in Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation Program in 1982, after a third year internship in rare book conservation at the Library of Congress.  From 1982-84 she was an advanced intern at Trinity College Library, Dublin and, during this time, spent one month studying with the English bookbinder and conservator Roger Powell.  She subsequently worked for four years at the Walters Art Museum as a visiting manuscripts conservator and joined the staff in 1989.  Since 2001 Ms. Quandt has been Head of the Department of Book and Paper Conservation at the Walters.  She specializes in the conservation of illuminated manuscripts on parchment and has lectured and published extensively on this and related topics.   She has taught a five day course on parchment conservation for practicing book and paper conservators and was the co-compiler of a chapter on parchment for the AIC Paper Conservation Catalog, published in 1994.  From 1999 to 2012 Ms. Quandt was the lead conservator for the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, whose focus was to conserve, image and transcribe the earliest surviving copy of Archimedes treatises, which dates to the 10th century.

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