Library Awarded Kress Conservation Fellowship

Post Date:
Nov 3, 2022

The team at W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is excited to announce that Queen’s University Library (QUL) has been awarded a Kress Fellowship in Conservation.

The successful grant application to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation by library Conservator Nataša Krsmanović further elevates the university’s reputation as a leader in the field of conservation and illustrates the continuing evolution of its library to a highly sought-after destination for researchers and conservation professionals alike.

“We’re excited and honoured to have been selected,” says Ken Hernden, University Archivist and Associate University Librarian. “Conservation activities in Canadian academic libraries have dwindled over the last few decades due to competing budget pressures, so the fellowship doubles our professional conservation staff for a year and allows us to continue the work begun by our Conservator Nataša Krsmanović to institute a revitalized program at Queen’s University Library that other universities are watching. The award also recognizes our investments in modern equipment and spaces, our Conservator’s qualifications to supervise this fellowship, and the excellent conservation activities and education at Queen’s University.”

At the crossroads of science and art, the field of conservation demands a complex knowledge of chemistry, materials, and sensitivity to artistic intent. The purpose of the Kress Conservation Fellowship program is to provide a wide range of post-graduate fellowship opportunities that will help develop the skills of new graduates. Six $37,000 (USD) Fellowships are expected to be awarded each year for post-graduate fellowships in advanced conservation at a museum or conservation facility.

With only six conservation fellowships awarded per year, competition is understandably stiff. Being among the successful institutions this year - and the only one in Canada - puts Queen’s in excellent company. Recent recipients of Kress Foundation grants and fellowships include The Library of Congress, Harvard University, The Smithsonian Institution, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“We are thrilled to expand our conservation training and research opportunities at QUL to include an advanced post-graduate fellowship, thanks to the generous support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation,” says Nataša Krsmanović, Conservator. “Post-graduate opportunities to specialize in book conservation are rare in Canada, and continued professional development abroad is often too costly for recent graduates. It is essential that we continue supporting the skills development of future library and archival conservators. We are expanding the boarders of our educational programs at Queen’s into our library spaces.”

QUL is delighted to report that Robin Canham has been selected as the incoming Samuel H. Kress Conservation Fellow and will be working with library and archives staff for the next year in the new Conservation Laboratory currently being completed at Douglas Library.

Robin is a graduate of the Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s University (’22) where she specialized in the conservation of works of art on paper, archival documents, photographs, and new media. She also holds a Master of Information Studies, with a focus in Library Studies, from the University of Toronto (’07) and a Bachelor of Arts (English) from the University of Regina (’05).

Robin has previously worked in conservation labs at the Queen’s University Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. She has also been actively involved with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) for over a decade, holding positions on the provincial and national levels.

“The Kress Fellowship is a unique learning opportunity where I can leverage my current skills to support ongoing preservation and conservation programs and research at Queen’s, while continuing to develop hands-on experience in book conservation and gain confidence in which to establish my future career,” says Robin.

As just the third Canadian institution, and the first among the country’s university libraries to receive one of these coveted fellowships, QUL is proud to be breaking new ground for higher education in Canada and showcasing the unique value of libraries to our academic and cultural ecosystems.

This prestigious grant will allow Queen’s to continue cementing its role as a formative contributor to the growing impact of Canadian institutions to art and conservation. QUL is grateful to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for the privilege of being able to host Robin over the coming year and looks forward to sharing more updates on her exciting work in the future.

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