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Subject: Wood surfaces

Wood surfaces

From: Detlef Klein <klein>
Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001
Michael Pearce <michael.pearce [at] scotland__gsi__gov__uk>

>Would anyone have an opinion on treating the surface of wood
>destined for display in cases in museum conditions? We are going to
>display a number of very old oak carvings which have apparently
>never been waxed or painted. It is not our intention to apply a
>surface treatment for any aesthetic reason; we would be interested
>to hear if there is a non-aesthetic argument for applying any
>surface coating for the sake of preventive conservation.

Surface coatings are applied to wooden objects for two reasons:
aesthetic and/or preservation. In this case, with no identifiable
previous historic coatings on carvings in the custody of a museum
(implying regular monitoring, as well as appropriate storage and
display conditions preventing deterioration) there would be no
reason to apply any surface coating, regardless of type. In fact to
apply a surface coating now for either aesthetic or preservation
purposes would severely compromise not just the appearance but more
importantly future research and interpretation. My advice is to
refrain from surface coatings in this situation.

Detlef Klein
Conservator of Wooden Objects and Furniture

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:62
                   Distributed: Tuesday, May 15, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-62-006
Received on Tuesday, 15 May, 2001

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