delware environmental institute

Art conservation students stabilize historic photographs of arctic explorers

Arctic explorers in the 19th century ventured north with the provisions necessary not only to survive but also to document their journeys, often accompanied by sketch artists, painters and photographers. Today, a large collection of photographs taken during those polar expeditions is housed at The Explorers Club, an international professional society founded in 1904 and headquartered in New York City. And thanks to University of Delaware art conservation students, nearly 1,000 of the club’s images have now been cleaned, stabilized and prepared for digitization, for use by researchers and scholars.

Eight boxes of albums, filled with photographs from the 1860s to the 1890s, arrived at Winterthur Museum early this month, where 10 graduate students in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) spent two weeks working intensively with the collection.