Volume 1, Number 1, Feb. 1979, p2

Projects and Activities

Fort Worth

Perry Huston and Nathan Stolow recently consulted with architects and engineers designing the new wing for the Museum of International Folk Art, a division of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. The building will hold a large collection of objects of various materials coming from all over the world. This diversification of the collection combined with the local desert conditions has resulted in a system with multiple environmental controls. In addition, they designed a single condition commentary system which can be added to the computer cards being used to program a new collection of over 100,000 objects. It is our hope that a detailed report on this project will be presented in conjunction with the W.A.A.C. April Meeting.

Los Angeles

Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts: A folk art monument consisting of a mosaic of thousands of pieces of tile, bottle, bottle caps. etc...in the form of towers and arches held together by weak cement and re-enforced internally by iron bars. Built over a period of over 20 years as a continuous project by Mr. Rodia, until the 1950's. Designated as a State Site, funds were provided, recently, to conserve and preserve the broken rusting iron elements and decaying cement. The appointed contractor was not contractually obliged to use the materials recommended by the consulting art conservators. No attempt was made to reach inaccessible areas of the monument. As a result, permanent damage was done to the monument. The U.S.C. Center for Materials Conservation was asked to provide a declaration of "Guidelines and Procedures for a Professional Approach to the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Monuments." Legal action by a Citizens' Committee resulted in work stoppage. Survival of the monument is questionable at this time.

W.A.A.C. has written to the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Bradley expressing the serious concern of its membership and all art conservators and supporting the stoppage of the "Ralph Vaughn" contract. The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts has requested the City Council to appoint a permanent Towers Guardian Commission which will include a representative from the W.A.A.C. as well as local museums. The J. Paul Getty Museum volunteered its time as a consultant on the Towers project for analysis and materials.

The Center for Materials Conservation at U.S.C., established in 1976, is an interdisciplinary institution dedicated to the conservation and preservation of historic and artistic works. The present interests of the Center are:

  1. To provide services to conservators, collectors, museums and related institutions for research and analysis of the materials of art, archaeology and historic monuments.
  2. To coordinate research on the solution of major problems in the conservation of artistic and historic works and their interaction with the environment.
  3. Inspection and conservation of the University's art patrimony.

The vast expertise of the Advisory Board in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geology, History, Art and Architecture; and an exceptionally well-equipped Materials Sciences Department makes USC a likely and ideal institution for the support of such a center. In addition, the Materials Sciences Department's complete facilities for materials characterization includes a sample preparation laboratory. The University is a leader in research in thermography and color processing, a technique currently being researched as a simple, low-cost scan analysis of paintings and objects.

For further information regarding the services offered above, contact Myrna Saxe, Director Center for Materials Conservation University of Southern California, Admin. 200, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90007. (213) 741-2531 or 273-3161.


The Portland Art Museum is preparing for an exhibition of Turkish Miniatures, books, textiles, and decorative arts. The exhibition will open in Portland in January 1979 and will circulate to museums around the country beginning in September 1979. Handling and display of some of the books is proving to be particularly problematic. The conservator, Betty Engel, would welcome any information from members about display techniques for books. Betty Engel and Susan Nash Munro conducted a conservation survey of the print and drawing collection of the Portland Art Museum. The Museum has applied to the National Endowment for the Arts for a grant for conservation of selected European and American prints and drawings from its collection.

San Francisco

The staff of the San Francisco Museum of Art Conservation Lab is working on a 30 minute educational film on the care and handling of paintings. It is designed for museum personnel, preparators and curators, and will illustrate the basics of proper examination, handling, packing, etc. Watch for the gala premier to be announced in the Fall of 1979.

Salt Lake City

The Rocky Mountain Conservation Guild, formed in 1978, recently held an all day meeting devoted to paintings and paper conservation at the Marriott Library of the University of Utah. The guild now has 20 members with attendance at special programs running between 50 and 75 participants. Although members of the initial group are interested primarily in preservation of library and archives materials, they encourage the participation of anyone who has an interest in the preservation of artifacts, paintings, sculpture, textiles, etc. Meetings will be held monthly at various locations in the Ogden to Provo area. For further information contact: PAUL FOULGER, Conservator, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, (801) 581-5147.

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