WAAC 2009 in Juneau: Angels in Overdrive






The Western Association for Art Conservation is having their annual conference in Juneau, and the volunteer “angels” have their hands especially full this year.  The site is the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Juneau, an 1894 gem on the National Historic Register.  The church was originally built by Alaska Native Tlingit people who continue to be most of the membership.  The architectural plans and many of the liturgical artifacts were gifts from the church in Russia 115 years ago and continue to be used today. 



The Angels “paintings team” includes (L to R) Camilla Van Vooren, Carmen Bria, and Hays Shoop from the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Art. 




The Angels “banner team” includes Catalina Hernanadez (NMAI Mellon Fellow, textile conservator) and Dana Senge (objects conservator in private practice) and Yoonji Lee (NMAI Mellon Fellow, textile conservator) who isn’t pictured here because she’s off doing disaster recovery…more on that in a moment…




The Angels “metals team” consists of Dave Harvey (objects conservator in private practice, shown in the center here) Anne Gunnison (NMAI Mellon Fellow, objects conservator) to the right and volunteer Brian Scott on the left.  Brian is from Phoenix Arizona, who happened to meet several conservators on the ferry ride to Juneau.  He intended to go to Peterburg, but instead was inspired to come to Juneau and help with the  project.  He spent the day industriously polishing brass with Dave Harvey.  Anne spent part of the day with the disaster recovery team…




WAAC president Scott Carrlee was supposed to be the administrator of this busy gang, but the weather had other plans.  A major storm hit Juneau over the weekend, and the rain hasn’t let up much for days.  Flood warnings are in effect for parts of town, and the 670-passenger cruise ship “Pacific Princess” skipped its port of call in Juneau because of high winds and fears it could not hold anchor.  Last night, a plastic “bubble” protecting ongoing construction work on the roof of the Alaska State Archives blew off, and rain caused serious water damage to some 500 boxes of documents, including maps, court documents, legislative documents and governors’ records.  Scott headed over to the Archives with several Angels, including Karen Zukor (paper conservator in private practice) Yoonji Lee and Anne Gunnison.  Janice Schopfer (head of paper conservation at LACMA) Albrecht Gumlich (Getty Conservation Center objects conservator) and Christel Pesme (paper conservator and GCI consultant) happened to be in town for the conference and also pitched in with disaster recovery efforts.


Members of the parish arranged a banquet dinner for us this evening at the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood Hall.  We were stunned and delighted by what they presented.  Salmon pasta salad, meat n cheese plates, veggie plates, garden salad…but that was the tip of the iceberg!  Fresh salmon and halibut, and I daresay some of the best I have ever had… James Johnson knows what to do with fish!  Delicious fry bread and rice rounded out the meal.   And then there was a cake with the image of the church on it, celebrating 115 years.




In addition, we were treated to a full dress rehearsal performance by the traditional Tlingit dance group Yaaw Tei Yi (the Herring Rock Dancers) who are headed to Hawaii this weekend to perform at the Annual Native Hawaiian Convention.  Quite a wonderful reward for the efforts of the WAAC angels, who will be hard at it again tomorrow morning…


3 Responses to WAAC 2009 in Juneau: Angels in Overdrive

  1. Rose Daly says:

    Thanks for the post Ellen. What a great opportunity for disaster recovery, and fortunate timing for the Alaska State Archives. Yea Angels! You are awesome!

    I Hope you have a great conference in Juneau. I am sorry I can’t be there, please keep posting for those of us who can’t make it.

  2. Hi Ellen,

    First let me say your Blog is TOO MUCH! WOW! I am Impressed!

    Second I want to thank you for hosting the WAAC conference. We had a great time! I learned a lot!

    My only regret is that I was unaware of the Angel’s Project at the church….We were glad to help with the disaster at the state archive though and only wish we would have had more time and $$$$ to enjoy more of the last frontier!

    Again many thanks for all the effort…..stay in touch!

    Best Regards


  3. ellencarrlee says:

    Glad you could come to Juneau! Glad you like the blog too. Let me know what you think about the synopsis of your talk that I just posted…I’m always concerned about where the boundaries are when I am talking about other people’s work…I’ll remove or change anything you don’t like.

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