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Saving the Sparkle: Conserving Schlumberger Jewelry and Drawings, circa. 1950-70

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) owns the largest collection of jewels, drawings, and decorative objects by French designer Jean Schlumberger in the world. His colorful, whimsical, and nature-inspired pieces remain in dazzling condition due to consistent preservation efforts by the museum’s conservation staff. As a VMFA paper conservation intern in the summer of 2021, I researched the life and work of Schlumberger and performed treatments on his tracing paper drawings. Working side-by-side with conservators on this project, I learned the value of surface cleaning, washing, and properly housing art objects. These conservation treatments, among others, removed the harmful dirt, adhesives, and acids that contributed to the degradation of the drawings. Post-treatment, conservators housed the drawings and art objects in archival standard frames, boxes, or cases so that the objects maintain physical and chemical stability and patrons and researchers can enjoy them for years to come.