“The Conservator (Fine Cut)”

“The Conservator” is an ode to the history of an object, the preservation of knowledge, and the meticulous craftsmanship of a woman whose vocation is devoted to both. Melina Avery is a conservator at the University of Chicago. Every day, she breathes life into centuries-old manuscripts and volumes taken from the University library’s vast collections. Her leather-and-parchment patients come diagnosed with ailments ranging from the cosmetic to the near-fatal, and it is her job to make them whole and usable again using a combination of hard science and a soft touch. The film is centered on one such patient, a sixteenth-century text by the Reformation theologian Wolfgang Musculus. Melina’s work is sensual in its imagery: thick paste spread onto ancient spines, Latin text illuminated by a light table, new leather fastened to a medieval tome—all encompassed by the futuristic curvature (and constant background drone) of UChicago’s Mansueto Library.

Shot & edited by: Hans Glick, Ennuri Jo, Thomas Mathew, & Madhu Srikantha