On Feb. 3, collections manager Brady Evans ventured to his alma mater to lecture 25 University of Hawai‘i art students in a class focusing on museums and preservation practices. The workshop took place in the John Young Museum of Art, which U.H. curatorial assistant Marion Cadora hopes to transform into a teaching collection. Cadora extended the invitation to Evans after he attended a two-day workshop on paper conservation. 

Like doctors learning the latest treatments, museum professionals in collections management are constantly learning new techniques and advances in their field. In this quickly evolving department, Evans often does research, participates in webinars, and learns from his co-workers. “A lot of museum professionals are very giving with the information they have,” says Brady, “because they feel like we’re all in the same boat.”

Evans’ workshop at U.H. focused on fundamentals like storage methods and preventative conservation, an approach he takes when dealing with especially fragile objects, like the museum’s Greenberg-Steinhauser glass collection.

Preventive conservation is taking the steps to handle, transport, and store objects in a way so as to minimize damage and deterioration in the short and long term. It covers everything from handling, environment, pest control, and who gets to access and handle the objects.”

Brady (back right) explaining handling techniques. | Photo by Aaron Katzeman. Courtesy of the John Young Museum of Art.

Brady (back right) explaining handling techniques. | Photo by Aaron Katzeman. Courtesy of the John Young Museum of Art.

The second half of Evans’ workshop was more hands-on. “We had them break up into groups and make a housing for some Chinese Neolithic pots,” he says. Evans projected images of examples on a screen and the students followed his instruction to make pallets.

“I think this was one of our most successful workshops at the John Young Museum of Art,” Marion Cadora says. “[The students] seemed inspired by how young and accomplished he is, and on top of it he is a U.H. BFA alum!”

Evans’ workshop wasn’t just a training exercise. “Each student made at least one custom tray for an artwork that we now use in the JYMA collection,” Cadora says. “It’s so great to see the students learning new things and simultaneously contributing their skills to benefit the museum. This is the whole point of the classlearn by doing.”

A few of the student-made housings

A few of the student-made housings. | Photo courtesy Brady Evans