Books, unlike other objects in the museum’s collections, must be handled in order to access the information held within their pages. This handling, sometimes by countless readers over a book’s lifetime, can result in physical damage that may compromise its longevity. To help ensure the long-term survival of these objects, book conservation oversees all activities related to the preservation, care, and handling of the museum’s book and archival collections. This includes the collections of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and Archives, the Institutional Archives of the Art Institute, as well as rare and unique books, manuscripts, and albums within the museum’s curatorial collections.
We perform an extensive range of specialized treatments aimed at stabilizing books and archival materials. We also construct protective enclosures for fragile materials, prepare and install books and archival materials in exhibitions throughout the museum, and maintain collection storage areas through environmental monitoring, pest management, and emergency preparedness training.