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Getty Conservation Institute helps museums rethink stringent guidelines on conservation

Getty scientist Michal Lukomski and former researcher Ashley Freeman studied how materials such as w..

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Getty scientist Michal Lukomski and former researcher Ashley Freeman studied how materials such as wood and paint respond to climate fluctuations © Evan Guston, courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Museums are under increased pressure to find sustainable solutions to managing their collection environments. The one-size-fits-all approach traditionally applied to temperature and relative humidity levels for objects, regardless of what material they are made of, is expensive and can thwart an institutions efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

With the help of conservators, scientists and other specialists, museums are beginning to adopt less stringent parameters that consider the specific needs of individual objects, as well as the history of their collections, which in turn could pave the way for more loans. To aid this effort, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in Los Angeles is leading the Managing Collection Environments (MCE) initiative, which combines scientific research with much-needed education.

It has been more than a decade since the Bizot Group of international museum directors pushed to re-evaluate the original guidelines, which were developed in the 1970s. These narrow parameters set the optimum environment at 20°C ± 2°C (70°F ± 4°F) and 50% ± 3% relative humidity. In 2014 the International Institute for Conservation and the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation adopted a more relaxed set of parameters, while a recent revision in a handbook published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers addressed the issue of different climactic zones and the importance of using the historic average of an institutions collection as a starting point. But the new approach has not come without challenges.

Joel Taylor, a project lead on the Gettys MCE initiative, says the original guidelines are still so embedded in experts everyday thinking that people worry that “they are introducing risk that has not been there before” by not adhering to them. But as his project co-lead Kathleen Dardes, who is head of collections at the GCI, points out: “We fell into this trap because many determined their environments based on the capabilities of what their heating and air-conditioning systems were providing, as opposed to what the objects could actually tolerate, what type of environment the museum was located in or what type of building the collection was in.”

In recent years the conservation community has increasingly asked whether it is possible to apply a single solution for collections environments. “What if you have an object made in Argentina or the Philippines where its humid, or in California where it would form an equilibrium within a drier climate? Once you start to unpack it, there are a lot of complexities that cannot be represented by a single number,” Taylor says.

A one-fits-all approach ends up being a one-fits-none approach Rebecca Kaczkowski, conservator, Smithsonian

“Different materials react differently in different environments; there is no one ideal environment,” says Daniel Davies, a zone facilities manager at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Davies is one of 36 museum professionals from 33 institutions to participate in the Gettys nine-month MCE course, which features online schooling and Read More – Source

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Oldest Shakespeare play in Spain found in Seville

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A 1634 copy of Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen unearthed by Professor John Stone at the University of Salamanca in September was, until very recently, considered the oldest preserved edition of one of the great English playwright’s works in Spain.

But it has just been trumped by the recent discovery of an even older volume, this time Shakespeare’s The Famous History of the Life of Henry VIII, found in the library of a private school in Seville.

The discovery was made after Luis Rey Goñi, the principal at San Francisco de Paula International School, walked past the two security doors guarding the library’s rare books section to personally check the date of the edition of a Shakespeare play that he knew to be kept there: it was published two years earlier, in 1632.

This rare edition of the famous play was being stored in a special archive along with documents dating from the 13th to 18th centuries, but it had gone unnoticed since its acquisition.

But Luis Rey Goñi is very familiar with the contents of his school’s library collection, which is one of the most extensive in Seville. “This work is a second edition, and it is probably more highly regarded than the first [from 1623], since it contains more elements,” he says.

But how did it wind up at the school? The school principal is unable to determine the details of the book’s purchase, but attributes its presence to the school’s tradition of collecting volumes of great value for its library. “Acquisitions have been made over the years,” he says. “The collection has been enriched with time. We have always given a lot of importance to the library. The first editions of the Generation of 27 [an influential group of Spanish poets between 1923 and 1927] were purchased as soon as they were published. A school, in our opinion, should be a repository of culture and encourage the generation and accumulation of knowledge.”

The play was part of the so-called First Folio, a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays. With the exception of PericlesPrince of TyreThe Two Noble Kinsmen, and the two lost plays, Cardenio and Love’s Labour’s Won, the volume brings together almost all of Shakespeare’s works, including Henry VIII which was separated from the rest when it was taken to Seville.

The San Francisco de Paula library has around 60,000 volumes, which are stored in both the library area and in an archive outside the school. “We have other curious books, such as works by Lope de Vega and encyclopedias,” says the director. “The oldest printed document we have is from 1472. But there are also earlier manuscripts, such as one of the Conceded Privileges by Alfonso X, dated 1256. The majority of the volumes are in Spanish, English, French, and Latin, although there are rare volumes in other languages, such as a manuscript from Burma [present-day Myanmar]. I don’t think there is an antique collection of this caliber in any other school library in Spain.”

The private school is located in the historic center of Seville, and was founded in 1886. Its library, named after former student Francisco Márquez Villanueva, has 12 rooms where the rule of silence can be broken in the event of debate. “Reading is the basis of knowledge, curiosity and research,” says the principal. “We want to encourage debate among students, and more and more of them are doing it. The goal is enjoyment, and reading is a wonderful way to get that.”

The library loans out around 3,000 books per month to parents, students and alumni. “We even have to keep reminding one of our students not to read when he’s coming down the stairs!”says Joao, one of the six librarians who work there.

 

Read from source: https://english.elpais.com/arts/2020-11-24/oldest-shakespeare-play-in-spain-found-in-seville.html

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Major Lindsay’s widow ‘upset’ after The Crown includes ski tragedy

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The widow of a major killed by an avalanche while skiing with Prince Charles says she was “very upset” about the incident appearing in The Crown.

Sarah Horsley told The Sunday Telegraph she asked Netflix not to dramatise the 1988 disaster at Klosters, Switzerland.

Major Hugh Lindsay was a friend of the prince and a former Queen’s equerry.

Mrs Horsley said: “I was horrified when I was told [the episode] was happening and was very concerned about the impact on my daughter.”

She continued: “I’m very upset by it and I’m dreading people seeing it.

“I wrote to them asking them not to do it, not to use the accident.

“I suppose members of the Royal family have to grin and bear it, but for me it’s a very private tragedy.”

Netflix said it would not be commenting on the story.

Mrs Horsley said the producers replied with “a very kind letter”, saying “that they understood my concerns but they hope I will feel that they deal with difficult subject matters with integrity and great sensitivity”.

But she told the newspaper: “I think it’s very unkind to many members of the family.”

The accident features in episode nine – titled Avalanche – of the fourth series of The Crown, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

It features long-distance footage of an avalanche – no close-ups of any of the characters involved are depicted and Major Lindsay does not appear at all.

But there is a voiceover featuring real audio reporting the accident at the time.

The focus is largely on the aftermath – the coffin is seen returning from Switzerland and the funeral is also shown.

The Major’s widow is played by Alanna Ramsey.

Prince Charles is also seen having flashbacks of the accident and later tells Camilla Parker Bowles, who is now the Duchess of Cornwall: “I was sure I was going to die.”

Other real-life tragedies featured in The Crown include the Aberfan disaster and the death of Lord Mountbatten, whose boat was bombed by the IRA.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-55042005

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Travel writer and journalist Jan Morris dies at 94

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Prolific travel writer, journalist, soldier and novelist Jan Morris has died aged 94.

Morris wrote more than 40 books including a notable trilogy about Britain’s empire, Pax Britannica, during the 1960s and 70s.

In 1972, she transitioned from male to female, undergoing gender reassignment surgery and changing her name to Jan.

Her son Twm announced her death, saying she was on her “greatest journey”.

“This morning at 11.40 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl, on the Llyn, the author and traveller Jan Morris began her greatest journey. She leaves behind on the shore her life-long partner, Elizabeth,” he said.

Elizabeth was Morris’s wife before Morris transitioned – they had five children together and stayed together, later entering a civil partnership. One of their children died in infancy.

Morris told Michael Palin in 2016: “I’ve enjoyed my life very much, and I admire it. I think it has been a very good and interesting life and I’ve made a whole of it, quite deliberately.

“I’ve done all of my books to make one big, long autobiography. My life has been one whole self-centred exercise in self-satisfaction!”

She is arguably most famous for her widely admired travel writing, and Palin said: “She’s kind of a non-fiction novelist. She creates an image and a feeling of a place that stays in your mind.”

Author Kate Mosse, whose books include Labyrinth, paid tribute to an “extraordinary woman”. Fellow writer Sathnam Sanghera tweeted: “What a life, and what a writer.”

Journalist Katherine O’Donnell added her “public visibility and account of her transition… let others like me know they were not alone”.

Labour MP for Cardiff North Anna McMorrin added that Morris was “an incredible writer, pioneer and historian”.

Morris’s book Venice, about the Italian city, is considered to be a classic by The Guardian.

Palin said it was “one of the most influential books of my life”.

“Her description of the city transcended any conventional travel writing I’ve come across. Morris’s heart and soul was in the book. It was like a love affair,” he said.

“Her book started my own love affair with the city, which has lasted all my life. And as a writer she taught me the importance of curiosity and observation.”

The author also wrote fiction, however, and her book Last Letters from Hav made the Booker Prize shortlist in 1985. It was a novel written in the form of travel literature.

Morris was particularly renowned as a journalist for announcing the ascent of Everest, in an exclusive scoop for The Times in 1953.

‘Powerful and beautifully written’
She accompanied Edmund Hillary as far as the base camp on the mountain, to witness the historic attempt on the summit.

The news was announced on the same day as the Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Later, in 1999, she accepted a CBE from the Queen, but said it was out of politeness.

Morris wrote about her transition in her 1974 book Conundrum, which was hugely successful.

She wrote in the book about having surgery in a clinic in Casablanca. The Guardian described it as a “powerful and beautifully written document”.

The writer told the Financial Times in 2018 she did not think her gender reassignment had changed her her writing, saying: “Not in the slightest. It changed me far less than I thought it had.”

She added that she did not think she would have achieved more as a man.

When not abroad, her home was in Gwynedd in Wales, where she held staunchly nationalist views and was honoured by the Eisteddfod for her contribution to Welsh life.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-55021555

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