Volume 9, Number 2, May 1987, pp.12-16

Regional News

Bay Area

Elizabeth Cornu, Objects Conservator at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, during the last half year has been consulting for the Jamaican government/UNESCO at three historic sites in Jamaica: Port Royal, Spanishtown and New Seville. As part of a team her contribution consisted of planning for future conservation facilities for historical, archaeological and ethnographic collections.

The Western Regional Paper Conservation Laboratory (WRPCL) at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has a new intern, Paula Volent, from the New York University conservation program. Joan London Wright has been working in the lab on a part-time basis since October. Joan was recently married to Jim Wright, paintings conservator at the Fine Arts Museums. WRPCL recently hosted Helen Burgess, paper conservation scientist at the Canadian Conservation Institute, for a three day question and answer seminar. Keiko Keyes has been conducting workshops in the lab on a periodic basis. These and other planned sessions are part of an ongoing enrichment program.

Jim Wright has left the Conservation Laboratory at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has been appointed full Conservator in the Paintings Conservation Studio at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Inge-Lise Eckmann has been appointed as Head of Conservation and Chief Conservator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sue Murphy, Paper Conservator from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin, is spending 6 months as an advanced intern in the Laboratory.

Richard Lorenz, conservator in private practice in San Francisco, recently treated an extensive collection of paintings by the California modernist artist Henrietta Shore (1880-1963). He also organized an NEA funded retrospective of her work for The Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art and wrote the exhibition catalogue. The show is currently on view at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, and will travel to several university art galleries in the United States.

Lorenz is also acting as conservator and curator for the Imogen Cunningham Trust in Berkeley, and recently organized a major retrospective of Cunningham's photography which is being circulated to selected museums in Eastern and Western Europe during the next four years. The show, presently in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, will open a United States tour in late 1991 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Lorenz's exhibition and catalogue are funded by the Arts America Program of the United States Information Agency.

From Linda Scheifler at the Asian Art Museum: "The Conservation Department at the Asian Art Museum has experienced many changes since December. The department is now staffed by three: Linda Scheifler, Robin Tichane, and Richard Barden. The museum also has a new Director, Rand Castile, and Deputy Director, Judith Teichman, and their arrival has brought many sweeping changes. One of the foremost that effects the Conservation Department is the increased acquisition activity, especially in the areas of Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern art. With this, the conservators have been called upon to recommend and arrange analytical services. At this point, we have worked with Pieter Meyers, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Kenneth Guagler, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, and scientists in the Conservation Analytical Laboratory at the Smithsonian. There is also an increase in the Exhibition schedule, so we are currently preparing condition reports on Japanese lacquers, Middle Eastern ceramics and bronzes, and Chinese art. An interesting treatment project currently in the lab is the repatinating of recently acquired Indian Bidri Ware (zinc alloy inlaid with silver and brass, 15th century) which has been overcleaned in the past. Since the 20 year old climate control system for the building is past its useful life, planning is underway to redesign the system both for more specialized needs as well as to increase its energy efficiency. In conjunction with this, we will soon begin to examine cost and labor efficient methods for maintaining microclimates in display cases, including the use of computer controlled sensing of conditions within cases. Finally, we are doing a general laboratory inventory along with good old spring cleaning!"

Linda and her staff welcome any exchange of information from others with similar projects. Please contact her at the Conservation Department, Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118-4598.

Los Angeles

Zora Pinney announced a new association in December of last year. She will continue to be in charge of product selection and information for Zora's Catalog for "The Art Stores", but will no longer be active in the store. As always, a major portion of her time will be devoted to information gathering and analysis concerning the materials and tools of art. Currently developing a pilot study for the Getty Conservation Institute to assess the needs of conservators in the inpainting phases of their work and how GCI may design a project to provide them with technical information in a form that will be a useful reference source.

Glenn Wharton has completed his Andrew Mellon Fellowship at LACMA and is setting up a private practice in Objects Conservation in Santa Barbara. His new address is 549 Hot Springs Road, S.B., CA. 93108. Tel: (805) 969-4067. He is maintaining a studio in Santa Monica, where messages can be left at (213) 451-0442.

Susie Schnepp, Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore recently spent six weeks at the JPGM and The GCI performing research on the cleaning of Gilt Bronzes (ormolu).

The Objects Conservation Department at LACMA has recently completed a year and a half project cleaning and lacquering the entire Arthur Gilbert collection of silver. The project was coordinated by Glenn Wharton, Susan Lansing, and Laurie German. Technical research on abrasives for cleaning silver was carried out at The GCI by Glenn Wharton, Susan Lansing, and Bill Ginell. Their findings will be reported in the Objects Session of the upcoming AIC Conference in Vancouver.

Dr. Neville Agnew, visiting from The Queensland Museum in Australia, recently spent two months at The GCI investigating the consolidation of Adobe.

James L. Greaves of Conservation Services in Santa Monica is involved with a major restoration of the American paintings collection of The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA. In addition, Bita Klemm has been assisting Jim on other special projects. Bita returned to the Southland late in 1986 after 10 years in Palma Mallorca, Spain where she apprenticed and worked as a paintings conservator, assisting on paintings and polychrome sculptures for the Museum of Mallorca.

Griselda Warr has left the Huntington Library to accept the position of book conservator at Princeton University. Her new address is: Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ. 08544.

Bob Aitchison of Aitchison and Watters, Inc., Los Angeles, has a contract to conserve photographs for the J. Paul Getty Museum. His main focus is preparing photographs for exhibition. The Museum has an active exhibition schedule including five photography exhibitions per year. Their current exhibition, "French Photography: 1840-1870", will be on display at the Getty Museum from 28 April to 28 June 1987.

Thompson Conservation Associates of Santa Monica announces that Mary Piper Hough (pronounced "huff") will begin working full-time as a paintings conservator in May 1987. Since 1984, Mary worked part-time for Tatyana Thompson and also for Denise Domergue of Conservation of Paintings, Ltd. She began her studies with Denise in 1981.

On May 13, Victoria Blyth Hill, Senior Paper Conservator LACMA, led a conservation workshop sponsored by LACMA's Graphic Arts Council.

Camilla van Vooren has been volunteering in textile conservation at LACMA since January 1987. She is expanding her pre-program training after having studied paintings conservation with James L. Greaves in Santa Monica and at the BACC in San Diego.

Gretchen Anderson has completed her six month NEA internship in Objects Conservation at LACMA. This summer she will work at the Science Museum of Minnesota and this coming fall, she and her husband, Clint Hoover, will move to New York City so that Clint can study jazz harmonica at The New School. The job search is on, so, Big Apple employers, as well as friends, can write to Gretchen c/o Melissa Stoddart, Department of Anthropology, Science Museum of Minnesota, 30 East 10th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. Phone (612) 221-9435.

The Objects Conservation Lab at LACMA is happy to announce the conclusion of the Gilbert Silver Polishing Project. The project was initiated in 1985 by Glenn Wharton. Over 200 silver and/or gilt objects were cleaned in conjunction with lab bench tests for the abrasive research being done by Glenn at the Getty Conservation Institute. The project tested the sanity of the three consecutive coordinators: Glenn Wharton, Susan Lansing, and Laurie German. A special thanks to all of the conservators and interns who were involved through the years including, Rosa Lowinger, Helene Gillete, Sharon Blank, Andee Morse, David Rasch, and Gretchen Anderson. Glenn will be presenting his findings on abrasives at the AIC meeting this May in Vancouver.

A series of workshops are being conducted by Olivia Primanis-Cherin a bookbinder in Los Angeles, exploring the characteristics of various types of paper, different sewing structures and styles of binding. Participants in the workshops include Mary Chase and Nancy Turner from the J. Paul Getty Museum, Joanne Page from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Lisa Forman and Karen Keller from the Huntington Library.

On May 11, Joanne Page lectured on paper conservation to John Richardson Jr.'s class, American Archives and Manuscripts, at UCLA's Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The textile conservation laboratory at LACMA has recently established a dye laboratory. The facilities enable the staff to prepare mending and support fabrics for museum textiles and costumes. For the past two months, Rosanna Zubiate, Assistant Textile Conservator, has been preparing a formula reference library of over 500 dyed samples. Wool and silk samples are being dyed with Ciba-Geigy dyes in the Solophenyl and Cuprophenyl series, also from Ciba Geigy. The fabrics were purchased from Testfabrics, Inc.

Nancy Purinton spent the month of February in India. She assisted Craigen Bowen of the Fogg Art Museum in the conservation treatment of Indian paintings on paper. The project included setting up a temporary laboratory in which the group of Rajasthani paintings could be treated. Treatments included primarily consolidation, fills and miles of mends. In addition to this conservation project she traveled to some museums to see the facilities and to visit with administrators, curators and conservators.

Southern California

Ann Discenza, a Mellon Fellow at BACC, has taken a two-month leave of absence in order to accept a temporary appointment as Conservator/Collections Manager at the Bishop Museum and Pacific Regional Conservation Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she is addressing the preservation needs of a significant Mollusk collection which is plagued by shell deterioration (Byne's disease). Ann is monitoring conditions before, during and after the installation of climate control equipment, and designing a new storage system to eliminate sources of acidity such as the previous cardboard trays.

Joan Samuels and Betty Engel of BACC have been collaborating on a recently completed climatology and visitor use study of Hearst Castle which was directed by Nathan Stolow The study involved the installation of monitoring instruments, instruction of the Hearst staff, analysis of the data collected and final recommendations for future mitigation possibilities. The duration of the study was nearly 2 years, including one year of actual monitoring of the environment.

Betsy Court, Chief Conservator of Paintings at the Balboa Art Conservation Center, has been working with Liana R. Beckett, instructional designer and curriculum developer at PanTec, to assist in the preparation of a set of didactic materials on the lining of paintings. Steen Bjarnhof, Director of the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, is the primary content expert and numerous other conservators are also collaborating on the project, which is under the direction of Suzanne Deal, Training Program Coordinator at the Getty Conservation Institute. Once a format is developed, it is hoped that it will serve as a pilot for other similar projects in the future.

Louis Goldrich, Registrar at the San Diego Museum of Art, is retrofitting their new compact museum storage system with overhead bracing bars to ensure better earthquake protection. Louis has contributed to many recent seminars on Disaster Preparedness, including a workshop co-sponsored by NAMED (National Association of Museum Exhibition Designers) and the Northern California Registrars' Committee - Western Region, held on 27 April 1987 at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, entitled "Methods of Protecting Museum Objects on Exhibition and in Storage."

Rocky Mountain Region

The Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts is pleased to welcome a new addition to its business staff. Connie Mohrman, who has an M.A. in art history from Virginia Commonwealth University, joins WCCFA following several years at the Denver Art Museum and, more recently, the curator of the Museum of Western Art in Denver.

Jim Swope has left the RMRCC to open a private practice in West Palm Beach, Florida. Randy Ash, a Paintings Conservator from Baltimore, Maryland, and Mary McGrath, from Dublin, Ireland, are presently working as visiting colleagues, at the RMRCC, until this position is permanently filled. All inquiries are welcome.

Nancy Mahaney has been promoted to Ethnographic Materials Conservation Technician at the RMRCC.

Bob McCarroll, Paper Conservator at the RMRCC, recently presented a workshop on Collection Care at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, at the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The RMRCC has received a $30,000 two year grant, from a private foundation, to fund its educational activities.


Since our last newsletter update, the Pacific Regional Conservation Center (PRCC) at Bishop Museum has added several new staff members:

Wendy Bennett was hired as paper conservator in July of 1986. Since moving to Hawai'i Wendy has become interested in local history. She will be conducting surveys of some of the Bishop Museum library's manuscript collection, is treating various materials from the museum's photo and document archives and has begun researching the careers of foreign artists who worked in Hawai'i.

Dale Kronkright joined PRCC as senior objects conservator in December 1986. Dale was previously museum conservator at the Redding Museum and Art Center. Dale has been asked to serve as one of the instructors for a workshop sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute titled the "Conservation of Artifacts Made from Plant Materials", a six week course to be conducted in June 1987. Dale will be teaching a two week block on deterioration and conservation treatments in conjunction with fellow instructor RUTH NORTON.

Janet Mason is The Andrew W. Mellon and NEA sponsored ethnographic conservation intern. We are fortunate to have Janet who is taking a 12 month leave from her job at the Canadian Conservation Institute. Janet is preparing masterpieces of Hawaiian material culture from the Bishop Museum's collection for an exhibit 'Legacy of Excellence' which celebrates the Year of the Hawaiian. Janet will shortly begin to investigate consolidants for weak and brittle grasses and other plant materials. Mixtures of resins and waxes are being considered as possible consolidants. If any one has considered or experimented with such a mixture for use on plant materials she would appreciate hearing from you.

Ann Discenza from the Balboa Art Conservation Center is here to manage a 2 month project in the Mollusk collection at Bishop Museum. Her project is funded by IMS and the Cooke Foundation and involves overseeing the installation of a new air conditioning system and devising a new, safe, permanent storage system for a collection of 4,000,000 terrestrial mollusks. The acidic storage materials previously used have resulted in deterioration of the shells known as Byne's disease.

Objects Conservation has been very busy with several on-site projects around the island of Oahu. In January, Steven Tatti consulted on the cleaning, recoating and partial regilding of the ever photographed bronze statue of King Kamehameha I.

PRCC's Gregory Thomas and contracted painting conservator Anne Rosenthal, worked atop a 4 story scaffold to clean and consolidate over 9,000 square feet of a 58 year old fresco ceiling in the Honolulu City Hall courtyard which had been damaged by salts and water. It was tough work for the scaffolding allowed only a small crawl space in beam areas so Greg found it necessary to work reclining on a lawn chair with a neck brace. The jokes about the reincarnation of Michelangelo abounded. Conservators Holly and Jay Krueger were contracted by PRCC during the month of August 1986 to treat several paintings while Greg was working on several on-site projects. Conservation assistant Annette Ruprecht assisted Greg with 4 painting conservation projects including 3 outdoor murals. Under Greg's direction, as a summer work project, conservation interns Michael Duffy and Virginia Rasmussen completed the third phase of treatment on a mural at the Hawaii State Library. PRCC chairman Laura Word is back in a lab coat part time. Laura, assisted by conservation technician Rachel Reynolds, is working on a large contract with the Honolulu International Airport to clean over 100 pieces of artwork on public display. Leslie Hill Paisley, senior paper conservator has been working on detailed condition reports and preparation of French mats for a collection of William Ellis watercolors belonging to Bishop Museum. These watercolors have major significance in the history of Hawai'i and will be exhibited briefly during The Year of the Hawaiian. PRCC is involved in a 3-phase conservation project funded by NEA in the Bishop Museum anthropology department. The first phase was completed in the summer of 1986 with conservation interns Jeff Maish and Joy Gardiner assisting PRCC conservator Jane Bassett. Phase one involved a survey of portions of the Hawaiian and Polynesian collections in order to provide the anthropology department with a long range conservation plan. This plan will be used when the collection moves in 2-3 years to storage in the new Castle Hall building. The plan identifies the most vulnerable materials, proposes the best method of transport and long term storage. The second phase, which will be completed this summer with Winterthur conservation interns Margaret Little and Don Sale will involve stabilization of the first priority items identified as a result of last summer's survey.

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