MCI Internship to Work with Mecklenburg Materials Archive

Posted on Feb 2, 2015

NSF_REU_intern_Group_photo_summer2013-1859The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is looking for a student with graduate-level experience/training in archives, records, and information management and an interest in materials science or conservation to assist with the organization of MCI’s Mecklenburg Materials Archive.

The Archive: For nearly forty years, conservator, scientist, and engineer Marion Mecklenburg studied the mechanical behavior of art materials, with resulting discoveries that had—and continue to have—a direct impact on the preventive and treatment efforts of collections professionals around the globe. While conservators of fine art have traditionally focused on the chemical deterioration of art materials, Dr. Mecklenburg argued that the physical behavior of those artworks is further understood, predicted, and managed when approached as an engineering problem. Through his own studies—and through the studies of the countless researchers who worked or trained with him—Mecklenburg made mechanical engineering a formative aspect of conservation research.
Dr. Mecklenburg retired from the Smithsonian Institution in 2010 and the organization of decades of his materials, research, and equipment is currently underway at MCI. The planned Mecklenburg Materials Archive will house the paint, wood, and fabric samples prepared and studied by Dr. Mecklenburg, and provide researchers with access to the raw materials (such as custom-made paints) from which those samples were created. The Archive will also include working and study samples of the equipment used over the course of Dr. Mecklenburg’s career (and information to help researchers interested in building similar equipment); a library of notes, books, and publications related to the environmental, lighting, and material mechanics research of Dr. Mecklenburg and his colleagues; and correspondence related to the archived samples, the commercial production of art materials, and the application of engineering principles to the study of material behavior in artwork.

The Project: The creation of the Mecklenburg Materials Archive is a multi-year project that will combine conservation, materials science, and library and archival science principles to create a usable archive of materials and reference data with a cataloguing system appropriate to mixed collections intended for historical study as well as for continued use and analysis. A summer intern is sought to review the research notes, correspondence, publication drafts, and other documentary and library materials related to the Archive and to assist in determining an appropriate inventory and cataloguing protocol for the organization of these materials.

Location and Supervision: MCI is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections. MCI combines knowledge of materials and the history of technology with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of artistic, anthropological, biological, and historical objects. The Mecklenburg Archives intern would be supervised by Dr. Dawn Rogala, MCI Paintings Conservator (primary supervisor) and Mitchell Toda, Assistant Archivist for the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). While MCI is the primary internship location, the intern should expect to spend at least one day per week at SIA. Smithsonian shuttle bus service runs hourly between downtown Washington, DC and MCI’s location at Smithsonian facilities in Suitland, Maryland. MCI is also easily reached by car. SIA is located in downtown Washington, DC and is accessible by public transit.

Stipend: A stipend of $6,000 is available for the 10-week internship period. Relocation, housing, and insurance are not included. The internship is intended mainly for the summer of 2015, but start and end dates are flexible.

To Apply: Applications must be made through the Smithsonian’s Online Academic Appointment System (https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html) by February 25, 2015; select the option for the MCI Internship Program. Your application materials should specifically mention Dr. Rogala as supervisor and the Mecklenburg Archive project, and discuss how working on this project matches your interests and would further your studies. Selected candidates will be interviewed by telephone, although MCI visits are welcome.  If you have any questions or want to further discuss this project, Dr. Rogala can be reached at rogalad@si.edu and Mr. Toda can be reached at todam@si.edu.