Students collaborate with Cleveland’s Intermuseum Conservation Association

Last semester, four Case School of Engineering undergraduate students worked on projects in collaboration with the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), an organization that “protects, preserves, and enriches our shared heritage of art and material culture through conservation, advocacy, and education.”

Polymer science students Janaan Qutubuddin, Chloe Maciejewski and Zachary Tubbs, along with Jacob Fraiman, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student, collaborated with ICA staff members Claire Curran, objects conservator, and Marika Kesler, the textile conservator, to address some conservation challenges. 

Learn more about their projects.

Janaan Qutubuddin

Qutubuddin focused on solving a problem that over 17,000 cultural heritage institutions in the United States face—preserving collective history. Because of a lack of information on how plastics can impact degradation, Qutubuddin set a goal to create a database of details that was readily available for collections professionals to better understand how to properly preserve plastics with minimal degradation. 

“Working with the ICA has allowed me to be at the intersection of art and science and has been a highly rewarding journey,” Qutubuddin shared. “I truly discovered something new from each plastics collection I observed, museums I visited, and degradation patterns I researched.” 

Chloe Maciejewski and Zachary Tubbs

Maciejewski and Tubbs focused on creating ways for smaller museums with less resources to ensure they are displaying and preserving plastics properly. They were able to better understand how tight the building envelope should be, what the proper humidity and temperature were for optimal preservation and provide a better understanding of PVC and Cellulose Acetate. 

“Working with ICA has helped open our eyes to the various methods of degradation that can arise in materials, even outside of polymers,” the team shared. “Working on this project to look into low budget improvements for polymers has improved our knowledge about the physical properties of polymers that leads to their degradation in certain situations.”

Jacob Fraiman

Much of history is documented on paper. To properly conserve those materials, and ensure they don’t discolor, conservators must wash the paper on a washing table. That’s where Fraiman comes in. For his senior project, Fraiman worked with ICA to design a brand new washing table, built to serve their specific needs and properly care for the historic materials.