Preserving History at the UW Conservation Center - Atlas Obscura

Seattle, Washington

Preserving History at the UW Conservation Center

Visit with conservators at the University of Washington's Conservation Center to learn about the technologies involved in preserving rare objects.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the University of Washington (UW) Libraries Conservation Center which cares for the more than nine million volumes in the UW library collections.

Library staff will lead a tour and show examples of the rare books, manuscripts, prints and drawings that they are working on to preserve for future generations. We'll hear stories from staff conservators about how they got into the profession and learn and how the field of preservation has changed over the past few decades. Associate Conservator Claire Kenny will also show projects that she's working on that share a Pacific Northwest connection. We'll also meet with Justin P. Johnson, Senior Conservator, Books and Paper; Kate Leonard, Conservation Manager; and Stephanie Lamson, Director, Preservation Services.

Established in 2016, the 4,000-square-foot facility is equipped with a wet lab for chemical treatments, washing, humidification and light bleaching, photo documentation and examination equipment, custom storage, and more. The result is an inspiring amalgam of traditional and contemporary equipment for the conservation and preservation work that provides stewardship and access across the Libraries’ diverse collections.


  • The Conservation Center is located on the 5th floor of Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington.
  • A map of Suzzallo Library's exact location on campus can be viewed here.
  • Several parking lots can be found on campus and fees may be paid with cash or credit card. Please adhere to all posted restrictions. More parking information available at UW Transportation Services
  • Due to space and facility restrictions, no large bags, food, or drink are permitted in the Conservation Center.
  • No ballpoint or fountain pens are allowed; please use pencils, if you wish to take notes.


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