Elizabeth K. Schulte

Papyrus photograph by Bruce M. White, Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 2007
Art, science and magic meet in the studio of Elizabeth K. Schulte, an expert conservator of works on paper and one of Atlanta’s secret treasures in the arts. When local collectors seek TLC for Old Masters drawings or Impressionist pastels, they turn to Liz. A rotating Mellon Fellow in Conservation at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum, Schulte has worked for many years on projects as diverse as ancient Egyptian papyrus, masterwork prints and drawings, and historical documents of all kinds. With an encyclopedic knowledge of art history and the seemingly X-ray vision of a chemist, she has restored or rescued so many artworks in our midst that it has given her a unique perspective on the Atlanta art world.

Schulte found her calling as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke, where she studied art history, studio art and chemistry. With internships at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Yale Center for British Art under her belt, she pursued her graduate degree in works on paper conservation at the prestigious Winterthur Museum program in Delaware. In more than a decade spent in Philadelphia at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, she treated historic maps, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and wallpapers, and collaborated with noted museum conservators on Paul Klee’s drawings, among other projects. Closer to home, Schulte conducted treatment and restoration of the wallpaper at The Hermitage in Tennessee and at the Swan House here in Atlanta during its recent renovation.

As both a scholar and practicing conservator, Schulte participates in the AIC Electronic Media Group of conservation professionals dedicated to preserving archival information with the most cutting-edge digital technology, a constantly changing field, and has also consulted on historical documentation protocols. These varied experiences are brought to bear on her most current project, the Martin Luther King Jr. papers in Atlanta. Restoring the letters, sermons and notes of the civil rights leader, Schulte studies the intimate meeting of pen and paper, seeing history in the making from a most private perspective, rather than from the pulpit. Her interest in the nexus of the creative process, the “first notion of an idea,” propels Schulte on her continuing journey of the artistic mind as expressed in the wealth of works on paper which may be as humble as a household inventory or as evanescent as a pastel.