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The Collation

Elizabeth goes to New York

On September 5, two professional art handlers from Artex Fine Art Services loaded a great big wooden crate onto their climate-controlled box truck, strapped it securely into the rear cargo area, then strapped my little suitcase next to it. The three of us climbed into the cab and hit the road: the Folger’s “Sieve” portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was on her way to The Jewish Museum in New York for Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries. Hannah drove, Emily navigated, and I crocheted. Well, technically, I couriered – it’s standard practice for a courier to accompany important loans  – but unless something goes wrong, there’s not much to do during the trip itself. Nothing went wrong, so I just hung out in the sleeper area of the cab. A little over five hours later, the Lincoln Tunnel spat us out into Midtown. We made our way up the West Side, across Central Park (hugging the center line under the arched bridges), and ended up with a perfect parking space on 92nd Street at Fifth Avenue. 

  1. Not necessary for climate reasons, that is. It’s often necessary for the courier to acclimatize, as it were. If you’ve come off an overnight truck-trip or flight, you’re in not in good shape to make responsible decisions about handling the piece.
  2. Constrained panel paintings like the Sieve portrait are particularly susceptible to damage from expansion and contraction caused by extreme moisture absorption and loss. For more information on the time scale of humidity equilibration, see “Drawing the Line on Acceptable Relative Humidity Fluctuations.”  For a brief history of the emergence of “traditional” tight climate standards and how they have been successfully challenged by materials research, see for example “Applying Science to the Question of Museum Climate.”
  3. At the Folger, the registrar is the person who registers readers coming to use the collection; the registrar at a museum or art gallery is a collection registrar, keeping track of what each work is and where it’s located.
  4. Spoiler alert: the hints didn’t work.


Great post Erin! Thank you for sharing the Queen with us and giving visitors a behind the scenes view of how it all comes together. Hope to see some of you at The Jewish Museum soon.

Rebecca Pristoop
Curatorial Assistant for the show!!

Rebecca Pristoop — September 20, 2012

RE:- Elizabeth goes to New York – September 17, 2012 | By Erin Blake
Just to let you know I am directly related to one of the main subjects of this piece.
Thomas Neale, Professor of Hebrew to Elizabeth the First was my Uncle [ie the elder brother of my direct ancestor William Neale]. It is a shame that I wasn’t aware during 2012 of this exhibit!.
I also have a connection with New York as my eldest daughter was married on top of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in the year of 1911. We visited NYC again earlier this year.
From: Hampshire, UK

Den Curtis — November 21, 2017