Frances Baas, Conservation
In September 2011, I joined the Penn Museum conservation team on a one-year post-graduate fellowship funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Working primarily on textiles this year, my duties include conducting a conservation assessment survey, rehousing and treatment of the large collection of archeological textiles from Max Uhle’s 1896 excavation at Pachacamac, Peru. This project is very exciting for many reasons both personally and professionally. In upcoming blog posts, I’ll tell you about the exciting project I am working on here at the Penn Museum.
Being in the conservation field, we get a lot of questions about our backgrounds and how we got into this fascinating field. I’m a recent graduate of the SUNY Buffalo Program in Art Conservation (artconservation.buffalostate.edu/) where I specialized in object conservation with a special interest in textiles. Even as an objects major, I always was working on a textile project of some sort (either a treatment or the subject of a scientific paper). Being that I am a daughter of an engineer and a seamstress, it only seems fitting that I try to fuse science with art. This IMLS Peruvian textile project is of particular interest me as I have a keen interest in handmade items that reflect a social or cultural history, as well as traditional and contemporary craft. Wanting to have one hand in the objects world, one in the textile world and then one in the science world (oh wait…) pretty much is at the heart of who I am. Additionally, I’m a textile artist, craftsperson and seamstress in my spare time, so this project combines both a couple of my passions.
With my internships, I have been trying to bridge the worlds of object and textile conservation. I have worked at the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Barnes Foundation, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art and other museums. Before heading into conservation, I worked for eleven years as Head Preparator at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.