Athenæum conservators perform conservation treatments on rare books, maps, manuscripts, prints, architectural drawings, broadsides, and pamphlets dating back to the 16th century. The Conservation Laboratory is dedicated to the care and repair of Athenæum holdings with inherent historic, artistic, or literary value. The laboratory was founded in 1963, making it one of the oldest conservation facilities in any library in the United States. For five decades, we have developed the capacity to address the complex technical challenges of preserving paper-based materials.

Conservation treatments for rare books, bound manuscripts, periodicals and pamphlets include: repairing existing bindings wherever possible to preserve original historical objects; dis-binding and re-sewing text blocks; repairing signatures; and creating new bindings in leather, cloth, parchment, vellum, and paper. Paper conservation treatments for maps, manuscripts, prints, posters, architectural drawings, broadsides, drawings and ephemera include washing and de-acidifying paper; mending tears and filling losses; and lining large sheets of paper.


The Driscoll Family Fellowship in Conservation

The Driscoll Family Fellowship in Conservation was created with a multi-year gift commitment from long-time member and Proprietor David L. Driscoll. The Fellowship is further supported by family and friends of Mr. Driscoll in memory of his late father Leo E. Driscoll.

Mr. Driscoll has long supported  the Athenæum’s conservation efforts in demonstration of his belief that  “conserving historically significant materials for future generations is central to the mission of the Athenæum.”

The von Clemm Fellowship in Book Conservation

The von Clemm Fellowship in Book Conservation was created in 2003 by a generous ongoing gift from The Michael and Louisa von Clemm Foundation. The foundation was created by former Boston Athenæum Life Member Louisa von Clemm and her husband Michael. Louisa von Clemm was drawn to the craft of bookbinding by a desire to create lasting objects that represent and preserve humanity’s collective culture and history. The von Clemm Fellowship continues this legacy.