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The Ins and Outs of Ivory: CIBA Interns at NMAfA

Posted on Aug 6, 2018 by in The OFI Blog |

Terry Weisser leads interactive workshop on ivory identification for CIBA interns.

The Conservation Internship for Broadening Access (CIBA) Interns experienced an ivory-filled day on Friday, August 3rd at the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA). Hosted by Dana Moffett, Senior Conservator at NMAfA, the interns first experienced an interactive tour of the museum’s ivory collection, both on display and behind-the-scenes with NMAfA Curator, Kevin Dumouchelle, who gave a historical and cultural overview of the types of ivory carvings and their meanings, as well as the broader political implications of ivory collections in museums. After Kevin’s tour of the exhibit space and the conservation lab, Terry Weisser, formerĀ Director of Conservation at The Walters Art Museum shared her ivory knowledge from her 46-year career as a conservator in this area. Terry led students through an interactive and highly engaging workshop on ivory identification and the conservation and ethical issues surrounding this highly regulated material. Working in pairs or small groups, the CIBA interns learned to appropriately handle and identify a variety of ivories including elephant, hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and even synthetic.Ā  Following the workshop, Terry and the students had lunch together where she shared her extensive expertise on graduate programs in the U.S. in art conservation.

Kevin Dumouchelle leads CIBA interns through a tour of NMAfA’s ivory exhibit.


CIBA interns discuss the ethics of ivory in NMAfA’s art conservation lab.


Ivory identification exercise


Terry Weisser walks the students through ivory identification.