The Secrets within the Glass

January 28, 2014
Landon and Lavinia Clay Curator Stephan Wolohojian and Patricia Cornwell Conservation Scientist Katherine Eremin look at the disassembled window with stained glass conservator Mary Clerkin Higgins in her studio.

A team of curators, conservators, and conservation scientists are working diligently to piece together the restoration history of Scene from the Life of Thomas Becket, an early 13th-century roundel from Canterbury Cathedral that will be displayed when we open in fall 2014. Comprised of 261 pieces held together with strips of lead, this fragile object was damaged and repaired over the course of its long life. Figuring out which parts of the window are from the original set helps conservators—in dialogue with curators and conservation scientists—determine what it is they want to preserve and how to go about it. Archival documentation and close examination confirmed that the glass was releaded sometime between the late 19th and early 20th century. After stained glass conservator Mary Clerkin Higgins took the window apart, scientists from the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies began analyzing the composition of every piece in situ and from samples. They are discovering that the restoration history is more complex than initially thought. Look out for more developments in their investigation here in Index.