Located on Yale’s West Campus in West Haven, Connecticut, the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage is a research collaborative and a home for shared laboratories for the investigation and treatment of Yale’s collections. Through material characterization we decode artifacts; enabling scholars across disciplines to incisively interpret their origins and histories. We develop and deploy techniques for the creation of datasets from large numbers of objects to allow meaningful comparisons of material histories and creative processes across collections around the world. No object is physically or chemically inert, and engagement, whether through travel, exhibition, or routine handling and conservation care, poses a range of threats. Fundamental to our work at IPCH is understanding and managing change, especially deterioration and its detection, monitoring, and treatment. We complement research into the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of broad classes of materials with the creation of tools that interrogate the vulnerability of individual artifacts thus helping caretakers make informed decisions about use and preservation.
The Institute shares knowledge and expertise in diverse ways. Our staff is involved in teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students at Yale and at conservation training programs. We organize short courses, workshops, and symposia at Yale as well as in collaboration with partner institutions worldwide. The Institute builds reference sets of materials, such as photographic papers, and is leading an international initiative to compile and make accessible catalogs of reference material collections.
The Institute was established by a transformational gift from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin (Yale College ’78). Major funding for personnel and programs also comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, and Wallace S. Wilson.
Dr. Anikó Bezur directs the Technical Studies Lab, which uses imaging and materials analysis to address questions related to objects in Yale’s collections that emerge during their scholarly study, conservation, and during their use in teaching and exhibition. The group advances existing analytical methods and develops new tools to improve capacity at Yale and beyond to characterize materials.
Paul Messier directs the Lens Media Lab, which focuses on the preservation and characterization of photographic materials with an emphasis on creating and interpreting large datasets derived from reference, archival, and museum collections. Building on this base, collaborations across disciplines in the humanities and sciences are fostered to assemble and interpret datasets derived from a broad spectrum of cultural heritage materials.
Dr. Paul Whitmore directs the Aging Diagnostics lab, which studies the causes of chemical and physical degradation in art objects and aims to develop novel analytical techniques that can measure and monitor aging and changes as a function of time and environmental conditions.
Chelsea Graham heads the Digitization Lab, which provides expertise and facilities for the creation, management, and accessibility of digital cultural heritage. Working with a variety of digitization techniques, the lab collaborates with collections experts, conservators, computer scientists and curators to develop projects that enable virtual examination and revolutionize the relationship between viewer, researcher and object.
The Shared Conservation Lab is a state-of-the-art facility utilized by conservators from Yale’s collections. This large lab is a collaborative space for conservators, curators, and conservation scientists studying and treating objects. Mark Aronson, Chief Conservator for the Yale Center for British Art, is the current chair of the steering committee guiding the laboratory.