The Centre for Curating the Archive hosted Nora Kennedy and Peter Mustardo (the Better Image) for a two-day photo conservation workshop and lectures. Nora Kennedy received her BFA from York University in Toronto, and her Master of Science degree in conservation from the University of Delaware / Winterthur Museum art conservation program. She is the Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and on the adjunct faculty at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. During her tenure at the Metropolitan she established a lab devoted to the conservation of photographs and has worked to expand the Museum’s initiatives in education and research.

Workshop participants included staff from several South African institutions, including the District Six Museum, The Iziko South African Museum, The Albany Museum (Grahamstown), Mayibuye Archives, Mc Gregor Museum (Kimberley), SA Jewish Museum, the National Archives and the Lwandle Labour Museum.

Topics covered:

Introduction to Photographic Materials (final image material, binder, support; silver halide photography—black-and-white and color).
Overview of the Technical History of Photography (covering major photographic processes such as salted paper, albumen, other printed-out papers, gelatin developed-out papers, chromogenic color)

Handling Photographs
Identification of Photographs (hands on session to identify photographic print processes)
Overview of Negative Processes
Identification of Negatives
Effects of the environment: Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, Air Quality)
Conservation Treatment: Risks, Limitations, Possibilities.
Housing Materials and Designs (papers, plastics; mats, folders, hybrids)
Other Photographic processes(cased images such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes; lantern slides; autochromes, silver dye bleach, Polaroid, dye transfer; carbon prints, platinum prints, and so on)

Presentations by Nora Kennedy and Peter Mustardo.

Overview Processes – Nora Kennnedy  (pdf)
Conservation Treatment – Nora Kennnedy (pdf)
Evolution of Negatives – Peter Mustardo (pdf)
Preservation of Photographs – Peter Mustardo (pdf)


District Six Museum: Chrischene Julius (Head: Collections)
Iziko SANG: Pam Warne (Curator)
Iziko SANG: Tara Weber (Intern Conservator)
Iziko SANG: Bradley Mottie (Conservator)
Albany Museum: Bongani Ngijima (Director, Albany Museum)
Albany Museum: Barry September (Collections Conservator)
Mayibuye Centre: Ingrid Masondo (Photographic Archivist)
Cape Town Holocaust Centre: Carlyn Strydom (Archivist)
National Archives: Mary Minicka (Head Archivist)
National Archives: Abubaker JArdine (Conservator)
SA Library: Antenie Carstens (Head of Reprographic and Digital Services)
McGregor Museum: Robert Hart (Curator)
UCT: Andrew Putter
UCT: George Mahashe
Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum: Charlene Houston (Director)
UCT Libraries: Paul Weinberg (Curator)
UCT Libraries: Kayleigh Roos (Intern)
CCA: Thomas Cartwright (Project Manager)
CCA: Fazlin van der Schyff: (Digital Manager)
Photographer: Andy Barker
UCT: Jean Brundrit
UCT Libraries: Brian Muller (Intern)

Participants comments:

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who was at the workshop – and to those luminous souls who put it all together. What a wonderful two days! As an artist with an interest in the history of photography, it has given me a deeper, surer sense of the nature of photographs, and a new confidence in handling, recognizing and thinking about them. It has also connected me to various local, South African institutions, by having introduced me to significant members of these institutions. – Andrew Putter UCT

Thank you for an exceptional experience. As Curator of Photography, this will assist me greatly in the identification of both works already in my collection, but also those we might yet acquire. It also provides me with greater insight into what conservation needs exist for the collection. -Pam Warne Iziko SANG

A HUGE thank you for all your trouble in organising this event, it was very valuable to share and hear from the experts what to do. This was a very unique opportunity to get hands on experience. More local group participation and sharing would be beneficial to all of us in this field. – Antenie Carstens SA Library

Thank you, it was most enlightening – George Mahashe UCT

Thanks for organising what was a very useful workshop and a good opportunity to connect with others. The workshop is great tool for understanding the needs of photographic collections – will help to plan conservation work in future and developing opportunities for younger people interested in museum studies – Chrischene Julius District Six Museum

We all learnt a great deal and can begin to apply these skills to our own collections. It was very interesting to note photographic conservation is a growth industry in the States and the first world but yet to register on the radar in SA. This workshop certainly gave us a good sense of what the benchmark is. -Paul Weinberg. UCT Libraries

I feel empowered with relevant knowledge+ information and will be better place to manage conservation and preservation of images. – Charlene Houston Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. It was very interesting and both Nora and Peter were fantastic people, both in their professional and informal capacities. – Kayleigh Roos UCT Libraries

I found the hands-on, practical elements were very strong elements of the workshop and saved it from being a very theoretical, abstract experience. I also thoroughly appreciated that Nora and Peter were cognisant of third world restraints and were able to give advice that we were able to implement immediately without much harm to our budget, space or man-hours. – Brian Muller UCT Libraries

I found the workshop extremely enlightening. What I most enjoyed was the history of photographic processes (as I did not know any of this prior to the workshop). I was also very happy to interact with other professionals within my field. It certainly was a good time to engage with others from outside my institution. – Carlyn Strydom SA Jewish Museum

I really learnt a lot – thank you. I realized that my love for photography has to be sustained by a love for conservation as well
Realizing what a huge sector this is was eye-opening. I was inspired to enquire about further formal studies in the field – Ingrid Masondo Mayibuye Centre

Excellent and inspiring presentations which included practical and useful examples. – Robert Hart McGregor Museum

For me, I think the hands on experience and identification exercise were a definite plus. – Bradley Mottie Iziko SANG

It is great to know there is more than one way to preserve photographs other than the traditional way of doing things and now you can treat your collection with more care. It gives you a great sense of responsibility. – Barry September Albany Museum

I really found lots that I could take from the workshop. – Mary Minicka National Archives