Last week was the culmination of the design analysis stage of our project. Having obtained all the information necessary to fully understand the problem we are faced with, it was time to synthesize everything we had learned in order to write a design context review. The week was stressful in that it was the first time we were held responsible for producing anything substantive, but the process of writing the review proved to be immensely rewarding.
Throughout the week, we worked separately, with each team member working on the section of the design context review he/she felt most confident in. On Wednesday, when we visited the on-site storage facilities of the MFAH and met with the Chief Registrar, Julie Bakke, and the Head Preparator, Dale Benson, I was amazed at how informed our questions and observations were, such that nothing we saw during our visit seemed as foreign as what we had encountered at the Rosine facility. Knowledge made for quite a self-esteem boost.
By Friday, we had completed a comprehensive document addressing the concept of preventive conservation, storage and handling solutions currently in use at the MFAH, the driving forces behind our design, and, most importantly, the design objectives and constraints that will direct the execution of our project. With Dr. Wettergreen’s guidance, we edited the design context review and finalized it yesterday.
Over the course of three weeks, we went from having no clue about art conservation to writing more than twenty pages on the subject. As I get over my state of disbelief at how far we’ve come and try to quell my apprehension as we move into the design and engineering stage of our project (i.e. the part that is, as of now, beyond my capabilities as a student of history and anthropology), the design context review is reassuring: if we were able to learn and do so much within the space of three weeks, what’s to stop us from having a prototype at the end of nine weeks?