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Monday, May 16 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Book and Paper) A low-oxygen capable storage and display case for the Proclamation of the Constitution Act & Design of a counterbalance supporting mount for the Books of Remembrance

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Two versions of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, the foundational document which gives Canada political independence and sovereignty from Britain, are held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). These important legal documents are commonly differentiated as the “raindrop” and “red-stain” copies due to characteristic water markings from the outdoor ceremonial signing, and the deliberate 1983 activist defacement of the second copy respectively. Increased requests for long-term loan and display of The Proclamation have prompted the need for a suitable multi-purpose case for storage, transport and display. Unfortunately, recent micro-fade testing (MFT) of the signature inks at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) has indicated that the synthetic dyes in the fountain pen inks are very light sensitive. The national significance of the documents, combined with the fugitive nature of the inks, has led to the difficult but common challenge of balancing preservation and access. In the past, traditional methods have been applied such as filtering UV, lowering light levels, reducing exposure time, and limiting the cumulative light dose to an accepted rate of damage. The use of a low-oxygen environment has also been investigated as a possible method for slowing the ink fading during periods of light exposure. To address both preservation and security requirements for the loan of the documents, a two-part case system was designed: an inner preservation storage case that can be installed in a larger display case that satisfies security requirements. Two identical custom-manufactured cases to house each copy of the Proclamation were recently constructed through a collaborative project between LAC and CCI. During the case design process, light fading experiments were also performed on related ink materials under ambient and low-oxygen environments. The low-oxygen environment showed promise for slowing the rate of fading; therefore, the cases were subsequently developed with the potential for maintaining anoxic conditions for the duration of a typical loan. A particular challenge was accomplishing the design specifications, while also minimising the associated cost. The finished product incorporated simplified elements from related work at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. The history of the project will be presented along with an overview of the case design elements. The Memorial Chamber on Parliament Hill holds seven books of remembrance, which commemorate those that fell in the service of Canada during war and other conflicts. The books are on permanent display to the public, and the presented pages are changed throughout the year during the Turning of the Page Ceremony. A set of six new altars was recently crafted for the books using stone, bronze and glass construction to replace the former wooden version. A condition assessment was performed at the onset of the project by staff at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), to determine the current state of the books and the best approach for their preservation. As part of this assessment, it was recommended that the new altar design should incorporate some form of adaptive support to reduce strain on the bindings. The continual changing of the book position, combined with the need for minimal interruption during The Turning of the Page Ceremony, presented a unique design challenge for mounts. The altar for the First World War book was not modified during the altars replacement project due to its historic significance and high level of craftsmanship. It also contains a unique counterbalance support system, which was the inspiration for a modern version that was designed at CCI to support the remaining books on the new altars. A low profile mount was developed using custom-machined aluminum components that incorporated a series of parallelogram linkages to form a 'gravity-activated' mechanism. This system was used to closely match the natural motion of the book during presentation of the first to last page with minimal adjustment required. For this specialised approach to work, it was necessary to adapt the dimensions of each mount to the geometry and detailing of the individual books.

avatar for Eric Hagan

Eric Hagan

Senior Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute
Eric Hagan earned a PhD in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London through a doctoral fellowship at Tate (2005-2009), after completing the Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s University (2004). He has worked at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) since... Read More →
avatar for Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Collection Manager, Library and Archives Canada
Michael Smith holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Ottawa as well as diplomas in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College and Collections Management from The University of Victoria. Since 2011 he has been the Collection Manager responsible for the textual... Read More →


Anne Maheux

Head, Fine Art, Maps and Manuscripts Conservation, Library and Archives Canada
Anne F. Maheux received a Masters in Art Conservation (MAC) from Queen's University and a Certificate in the conservation of works on paper at the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard University Art Museums. She is a recipient of the American Academy in Rome Prize... Read More →

Christine McNair

Conservator - Books / Textiles, Archaeology, Objects and Paper, Canadian Conservation Institute
Christine McNair has a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Art History from Acadia University and an M.A. in Conservation Studies from West Dean College (UK). Her two and a half years of graduate work in the conservation of books and library materials culminated with a thesis... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Room 210 AB/EF