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Subject: Symposium on conservation of synthetic materials

Symposium on conservation of synthetic materials

From: Kathrin Kessler <kathrin.kessler>
Date: Monday, September 27, 2004
4th symposium on the conservation of synthetic materials
Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein/Lorrach
24-25 November 2004

Plastics--past and present

With plastic objects having become such an integral feature of
everyday life, it is impossible to imagine modern society without
them. Often they involve unassuming articles of daily use, some of
which might someday become collector's items. In the fields of art
and design, plastics have likewise found use for several decades
now, such as the Nanas by Niki de Saint Phalle and the Panton Chair.
As a result, all manner of objects made of synthetic materials have
been increasingly turning up in private and public collections, with
the value of these works rising as well. Looking at the market, this
can be seen in the insurance sums as well as in the number of such
pieces at auctions and the prices they attain.

The production of plastic objects has never featured long use and
durability as its primary goal. Nonetheless, today it is the task of
museums and collectors to preserve these documents of technical and
design-related developments. While the aging properties of
time-honoured materials such as wood and metal are well known, the
degradation processes for synthetic materials have scarcely been
documented. One thing we know with certainty, however, is that the
aging of plastics occurs much faster than with other materials, in
some cases even over the course of just a generation. These
processes endanger not only the maintenance of value for the works
of art and design but even their sheer existence as well.

On one hand, the goal of the cooperation between AXA Art and the
Vitra Design Museum is the concrete development of new techniques
for the conservation and restoration of works made of synthetic
materials. On the other, the project aims to create guidelines and
recommendations for dealing with plastic objects, such as for
exhibitions, transport or storage, which will be subsequently
communicated to a broad target audience including collectors,
conservators, gallery owners, museums, forwarders and plastics

At this fourth symposium, the project's findings thus far will be
presented to a wide range of those interested in art and plastics.
The symposium will focus on four areas. It will begin with an
introduction of the history of plastics and the damage seen with
synthetic materials. Second, the insurer will examine the issues
from the perspective of maintenance of value. Third, concrete
examples from various areas of art and conservation will demonstrate
some initial approaches and solutions. In conclusion, symposium
attendees will visit exhibitions and conservation labs of various
area museums and manufacturing facilities, such as a synthetic foam
production plant.

The definitive symposium programme will be available starting in
end-August. The symposium language is English. The participation fee
of 115 euros--70 euros for students--includes symposium materials
and concluding documentation, as well as 2x lunch and refreshments.
Information requests and registration should be submitted no later
than 10 November 2004 to:

    Alexa Tepen
    Vitra Design Museum
    alexa.tepen [at] design-museum__de
    +49 7621 702 3153

Kathrin Kessler
AXA Art Conservation Project in Cooperation
with the Vitra Design Museum
Vitra Design Stiftung gGmbH
Charles-Eames-Strasse 1
79576 Weil am Rhein
+49 7621 702 3182
Fax: +49 7621 702 4182

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:17
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 7, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-18-17-021
Received on Monday, 27 September, 2004

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