Back To Schedule
Thursday, May 30 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Book and Paper) Flip, Flap and Crack: The Conservation of 400 years of Anatomical Flap Books

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Anatomical flap books refer to a genre of 2-dimensional paper objects that contain multiple flaps of paper that as lifted reveal images of the many layers of human anatomy. The History of Medicine Collection (HOM) in the Rubenstein Library of Duke University contains a renown, unique, and fragile collection of these extraordinary materials. Considered by some scholars to be pre-cursors to the modern pop-up book, they are inherently vulnerable because their multiple small parts must be handled in order to fully experience the content. This HOM collection is particularly fragile as it contains materials dating from the 16th century with very small but stable pieces, to the 20th century with some brittle materials and acidic adhesives.

These materials see a great deal of “use”. Some of these volumes are displayed in show-and-tell sessions for educational purposes at the university, and In the spring of 2011 many of these volumes were placed on display in the library’s gallery for 3 months. Duke University Library prides itself on making their materials fully available to the university community, external scholars and the general public; anyone can come to use these volumes and flip through even the most fragile anatomical specimens.

The curator of the HOM collection has been integral in keeping an open communication with the conservation department, and through the past 2 years we worked together to prepare the items for display (including photographing many pages and creating videos for the exhibit), to properly display the items, and after the exhibition, to properly treat and house those items that needed attention. This paper will discuss methodology of special mounts for exhibit, special housings for a wide variety of “pieces” that often accompany or are a part of these works, as well as discussions of multiple treatments completed on the items.

Most of the early material from the 16th and 17th centuries was straight forward to treat, as the paper and adhesives were still in excellent condition; it was the modern material, especially from the 19th and 20th centuries that proved to be challenging. The newer flap anatomies were riddled with bad adhesives, brittle paper, and shoddy workmanship. Treatment of these materials required conversations with curators, compromises from conservation, and open mindedness all around. This paper is appropriate for the 2013 AIC session as it deals with contemporary use issues, contemporary objects, and contemporary techniques.


Margaret Brown

Conservator, Duke University Libraries

Thursday May 30, 2013 3:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom E 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

Attendees (0)