A behind-the-scenes tour of the Folger conservation lab

Renate Mesmer, head of the conservation lab. Photo by Lloyd Wolf.
Renate Mesmer. Photo by Lloyd Wolf.

Up on the third floor of the Folger Shakespeare Library, conservators work meticulously with rare books and other collection materials: preserving, repairing, preparing for display, and packaging for travel.

Renate Mesmer, head of conservation, takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory for this Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episode. 

Earlier this year, the conservation lab was a crucial staging area for readying 18 of the Folger’s 82 First Folios to tour the United States, which Mesmer talks about in the podcast episode. The traveling exhibition, First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, is part of The Wonder of Will, the Folger’s celebration in 2016 of 400 years of Shakespeare.

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The lab, which was dedicated in October 2006, takes its name from a former Folger Shakespeare Library director.

These photos show a typical afternoon in the conservation lab: Conservators are working on preparing a manuscript loaned from another institution for an upcoming exhibition at the Folger, repairing a promptbook from the Folger collection, and arranging a loan from the Folger collection to another institution.

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