Behind the scenes of the conservation proces

Conserving Diplomacy
Collections from three major U.S. national institutions—the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and Records Administration (which oversees presidential libraries), and the Library of Congress—were displayed in the exhibition, Great and Good Friends: Historic Gifts between Thailand and the United States, 1818-2018, most for the first time in Bangkok.

For more than a century these institutions have taken great care to honor the generosity of the Kingdom of Thailand through the preservation of these historical artifacts.

Today, they are stored in state-of-the-art facilities and careful considerations are made to limit the effects of light exposure and climate fluctuations.

While many of the objects are in remarkable condition, particularly for their age, some items underwent conservation to improve their stability in preparation for display.

The care that curators and conservators give to these objects is a daily testament to the friendship between Thailand and the United States.

Objects and Conservators

12/13/17 - Smithsonian Institution Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD: Textile conservator Julia Brennan explains the conservation process for the ceremonial gold robe.

11/30/17 - Smithsonian Institute Museum Support Center Conservation Meeting, Suitland, MD: Object Conservator Kim Cullen Cobb discusses the treatment plan for the woven mat with astrological sign of the dog with Meridian's Vice President of Cultural Programs, Terry Harvey. This meeting is in the conservation lab, and this mat will undergo the most treatment in comparison to the other GGF objects.

12/13/17 - SI Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD: Detail of conservation-in-progress of the “Chantaboon” woven reed mat with astrological sign of the dog.

Objects made of organic materials are particularly vulnerable to degradation over time. This woven reed mat at the Smithsonian, gifted by King Chulalongkorn after its display at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, developed a tear due to the fragility of the century-old plant fibers. Conservation stabilized the damage and improved this delicate object’s longevity.

12/11/17 - National Archives Building, Washington, DC: Detail of the hilt of the Japanese-style sword gifted by King Mongkut to President James Buchanan in 1861.

12/11/17 - National Archives Building, Washington, DC: Curator Trevor Merrion and Kim Koons of the National Archives (right) watch as conservator Cathy Valentour explains the necessary conservation treatment for the gilded niello bowl that was gifted to President Herbert Hoover by King Prajadhipok during his U.S. visit in 1931.

Working in the National Archives Conservation Lab, Exhibits Technician Vincent Carney (left) and Exhibits Conservator Abigail Aldrich (right) encapsulate the 1861 "Elephant letter" from King Mongkut to President Buchanan, 2018
Washington, D.C.

Video timelapse of the ceremonial gold robe photography (pre-conservation).

Credits: Story

NARA photograph by Jeff Reed

Great and Good Friends

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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