Pre-Columbian Society of Washington DC

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (PCSWDC), is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the Society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public.

August Membership Meeting

Title of Talk: Preparing and Installing the Great Inka Road Exhibit: A Conservator's Perspective

Speaker:   Emily Kaplan

Date: August 7, 2015

Time:  Refreshments 6:45 pm Lecture 7:15 pm

This presentation provides a  glimpse behind the scenes of the exhibit "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire" from the conservation perspective. I will give an overview of the exhibit process focusing on the work of exhibit team members including conservation, collections management, and exhibit production. The NMAI conservation team spent a year spent researching and conserving the collections selected by curator Ramiro Matos for exhibition. We consulted with experts in Andean metallurgy, pottery, textiles, spondylus and ethnography; carried out scientific analyses and spent many hours doing conservation treatments. I will highlight some of our favorite objects, treatments, and challenges.  The exhibit opened June 26 at the NMAI Mall Museum, for a three year run.

Emily Kaplan has been an objects conservator at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian since 1996. She works on exhibit preparation at the museum’s New York and Washington DC facilities and specializes in collaborative technical studies of pre-Columbian and colonial Andean objects, particularly drinking vessels known as qeros. Recent publications on qeros include a sidebar in the Inka Road publication, a co-authored chapter “Tradition and Innovation, Cochineal and Andean Keros”, in the book “A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World” and a co-authored article in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. “Mopa mopa: scientific analysis and history of an unusual South American resin used by the Inka and artisans in Pasto, Colombia.”  Emily is currently co-editing a book on qeros; contributions include perspectives from colleagues in archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, botany, chemistry and conservation.

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