Augerson Art Conservation Services

Conservation of Ethnographic Objects

We offer experience surveying and treating collections of ethnographic objects, including works from Oceania, Africa, India and Sri Lanka. This includes Chris Augerson’s treatment of over 30 ethnographic artifacts from the Morton D. May Collection of Oceanic Art, belonging to the Saint Louis Art Museum in Missouri, USA. Among the objects in that collection that he treated are Indonesian artworks, including an elaborate, painted mask from the Dyak tribe of Borneo; Melanesian artworks, such as a hand drum of the Papuans of New Guinea, Sepik masks incorporating shells and feathers, jewelry from the Solomon Islands, and large, carved Malagan sculptures.

Working with Bonnie Baskin, our associate from the San Francisco Bay Area, we assisted the California State Parks in 2000, with a survey of approximately 100 ethnographic objects at the former home of the renowned author Jack London. Collected by the author during his extensive travels to Pacific islands, these can today be seen in London's "House of Happy Walls" near Santa Rosa, California. In addition to assessing their condition and the need of certain objects for conservation treatment, we provided information for preventive conservation, suggesting low-cost ways to improve their display and their environmental conditions (such as methods for limiting ultraviolet light in the museum, to keep it at safe levels).

Chris Augerson conserved the Asmat ancestor pole seen at the center of this photo, in the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum, using innovative techniques that he developed. These are discussed in his article “Hydlar ZF, a nylon-Kevlar product, suitable as a reinforcing material for wood repair” published by the Rijksmuseum/VeRes in the Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Wood and Furniture Conservation (Paul van Duin, Dominique van Voosdrecht, and Davis Wheeler, eds., p. 1-11, 1999).

Photos: Marind Ceremonial Drum (Papau New Guinea, early-mid 20th century, Saint Louis Art Museum) ; Sepik Headdress (Papua New Guinea, early-mid 20th Century, Saint Louis Art Museum); Malagan sculpture of the Paupan Wreathed Hornbill (New Ireland, late 19th or early 20th century, Saint Louis Art Museum), Siane "Gurua" Spirit Board (Papau New Guinea, mid-20th century, Saint Louis Art Museum).

© Augerson Art Conservation

Augerson Art Conservation Services, P.O. Box 1512, Millbrook, NY 12545, USA
Augerson Art Conservation Services UK, Unit 42, 196 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AT