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The Age of Plastic: Ingenuity and Responsibility: Proceedings of the 2012 MCI Symposium

Publication Info

Added 2019-07-05
Publication date: 2017-08-25 (Hijri Calendar)
doi: 10.5479/si.19492367.7

The Age of Plastic: Ingenuity and Responsibility: Proceedings of the 2012 MCI Symposium

Odile Madden, Asuncion Elena Charola, Kim Cullen Cobb, Paula T. DePriest, Robert J. Koestler (Volume editor); Bill Moggridge, Mary M. Brooks, Robert Friedel, Bill Ayrey, Linda Hewes, Pierre Comizzoli, Cory Bernat, Debbie Mielewski, Ellen Lee, Angela Harris, Cynthia Flanigan, Lucien H. Schockey, Thea van Oosten, Molly McGath, Jan Vozenilek, Nancy Wallace, Dianna Parker, Mike Biddle, Susan Freinkel (Chapter/Paper Author)

This volume brings together papers presented at “The Age of Plastic: Ingenuity + Responsibility,” a Smithsonian symposium hosted by the Museum Conservation Institute on June 7–8, 2012. The event was conceived as a cross-disciplinary exploration of plastic as technological material, cultural phenomenon, preservation challenge, and force on the environment. Writers, scientists, conservators, historians, filmmakers, designers, and policy makers offer researched and first-hand accounts from life in the Plastic Age. Papers are organized to highlight the importance and complexity of plastic material culture through juxtaposition of countervailing positive and negative viewpoints. The volume features observations on innovation in plastic with past and contemporary examples of furniture design, failed experiments with proteinaceous fibers before World War II, the transition of celluloid from ivory simulant to unique identity, the space program, and bioplastics in automobiles. Studies of the rise of food packaging further explore how plastic shapes and is shaped by our culture. Preservation challenges that new, often unstable plastic poses for the cultural heritage community are explored through case studies of novel conservation treatments, research into new deterioration phenomena, and knowledge transfer. The relationship between plastic and the environment is probed with perspectives on pollution, advantages of plastic to living zoological collections, and recycling. Intended primarily for the cultural heritage community but also relevant to other fields, this volume demonstrates the importance and challenges of documenting the remarkable ongoing evolution of plastic materials that now are integral to the artifact record as markers of achievement and records of the innovation process.
Madden, Odile, A. Elena Charola, Kim Cullen Cobb, Paula T. DePriest, and Robert J. Koestler. Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation, number 7, viii + 181 pages, 139 figures, 5 tables, 2017. 


Odile Madden, Asuncion Elena Charola, Robert J. Koestler

Balancing Ingenuity and Responsibility in the Age of Plastic

Odile Madden

Designing Plasticity

Bill Moggridge

“Astonish the World with . . . Your New Fiber Mixture”
Producing, Promoting, and Forgetting Man-Made Protein Fibers

Mary M. Brooks

Is It Real? Imitation and Originality in Plastics

Robert Friedel

Advanced Materials Used in Space Suit Construction

Bill Ayrey, Linda Hewes

Separating Good Plastic from Bad Plastic in Conservation Biology

Pierre Comizzoli

Plastic and Food Culture

Cory Bernat

Ford’s Driving Role in the Bio-Based Materials Age

Debbie Mielewski, Ellen Lee, Angela Harris, Cynthia Flanigan

Conservation of Plastics at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Lucien H. Schockey

Preserving Plastic
Challenges in the Conservation of Modern Art Objects

Thea van Oosten

Engineered Self-Disassembly
A Plastic That Turns into Gravel

Molly McGath, Odile Madden

Midway: A Message from the North Pacific Gyre

Jan Vozenilek

Debris in the Marine Environment

Nancy Wallace, Dianna Parker

Closing the Loop with Plastics

Mike Biddle

Falling in and out of Love
Our Troubled Affair with Plastic

Susan Freinkel

Open Monograph Press Public Knowledge Project