Michael Siegel is a second-generation alumnus of Johns Hopkins following in his father’s footsteps. Growing up, Siegel, a 1974 Krieger School graduate, learned from his father Henry Siegel the power of books and importance of continual learning. When Henry passed away in 1996, Michael’s mother established the Henry M. Siegel Library Endowment in honor of her husband. As a longtime supporter of Sheridan Libraries, Siegel became aware of the resources needed to continue post-graduate conservation fellow Laura McNulty’s advanced conservation training in the book and paper conservation laboratory and wanted to make an impactful gift.
“My dad was the class of ’47. He loved reading,” says Siegel. “I wanted to contribute and support conservation. I knew the gift was going to benefit a good purpose. It’s important to preserve books; we can’t lose conservation.”
The Department of Conservation and Preservation is one of the oldest uninterrupted book and paper conservation departments in an academic research library, with the mission of providing active training of conservators through internships and fellowships.
According to Mark Pollei, the Joseph Ruzicka and Marie Ruzicka Feldmann Director of Conservation and Preservation at Sheridan Libraries and Museums, Siegel’s gift came at the most opportune time — McNulty’s previous funding had ended, and the department was actively looking for alternative sources to support her fellowship. Pollei shares that for the past two years, McNulty has been involved in the conservation efforts of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera detailing the experiences of early modern women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.
“Working with such rare and unique materials provided Laura with significant hands-on conservation training that has greatly enhanced her ability to treat a broad range of damaged and deteriorated rare books and manuscripts,” says Pollei. “Michael’s gift ultimately provided Laura an opportunity to continue her once-in-a-lifetime conservation training by working alongside a team of highly skilled book conservators engaged in the conservation and stabilization of these priceless and unique treasures.”
Siegel, who has served on the Friends of the Libraries committee, describes how he wanted to take action on a time-sensitive situation — beyond his outright and planned legacy gifts to the Libraries and to his father’s endowment. Siegel met McNulty when she was working on materials from the Women of Book Collection, seeing firsthand the mentorship and collaboration amongst the conservation professionals.
“I have always enjoyed books. Tangible books. If you don’t preserve these materials you are going to lose these resources. They are works of art,” says Siegel. “Books bring knowledge. Preserving books gives insight into the research, science, history, and social history of that era.”
Pollei explains how fellowships at Sheridan Libraries allow graduate students to develop advanced skills, from conservation treatment techniques to installation and management of complex conservation workflows. He underscores that book conservation needs to be taught inside laboratories.
“One cannot learn proficiency of advanced conservation techniques by reading a book, listening to a lecture, or watching a video. It requires hundreds of hours of hands-on practice alongside an experienced conservation professional,” says Pollei. “Michael’s gift provided Laura an opportunity to continue her training in the Sheridan Libraries conservation laboratory in order to ultimately gain proficiency, expertise, and confidence as an emerging professional book conservator.”
This past summer Siegel, who lives in Florida, was back in Baltimore visiting family. During his visits he enjoys attending Sheridan Libraries exhibitions, walking the campus, and reflecting on his college days, but more importantly it’s remembering the Johns Hopkins moments he shared with this father — from attending lacrosse games to Homecoming events.
“I grew up with Hopkins because of my father. He grew up in Baltimore,” he says. “Hopkins is a part of my family, and it’s nice to think my family might be making a difference.”
That difference is already being felt by the Hopkins community.
“The generosity of Michael’s gift afforded an unprecedented opportunity for Laura to gain the necessary skills, experience, confidence, and ethos to develop as an emerging and competent book conservator,” says Pollei. “As the beneficiary of Michael’s gift, Laura will one day, as an accomplished professional, continue the cycle of mentoring and training the next generation of emerging conservators tasked with preserving tomorrow’s rare materials.”
Topics: Alumni, Faculty and Staff, Students, Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Strengthening Partnerships, Support Scholars
Focusing on spiritual and religious life as an overall theme, some authors wrote personal remembrances or cataloged convent residents.
“I needed a place to keep the artwork safe so I started donating to Johns Hopkins. I wanted to be a part of the Evergreen Museum. It’s a great place to be,” says Wally Lumpkin.
“It’s important to me that our collection is well taken care of. The Sheridan Libraries has an amazing group of conservators and professors who understand the history and significance of books, prints, and art,” Ingrid Rose says.