Volume 10, Number 1, Jan. 1988, special supplement to the newsletter, 7 pages
Benita Johnson - Conference Chair
Roz Westmoreland - Scientific / Southwest Interest Chair
Lynn Wicks - Objects / Textiles / Indian Artifacts Chair
Jim Wright - Paintings Chair
Genevieve Baird - Books / Paper / Photographs Chair
For the benefit of members who were not able to attend the WAAC Annual Meeting in Tucson, here follow the set of abstracts distributed in the registration package. Please note that some of the presented papers have been developed into articles in the Features section. Work is underway to present more articles based on the meeting in future Newsletters.
Revised WAAC Bylaws were distributed in the registration package. Any member interested in the revised document should contact the Secretary / Treasurer for a copy.
Photography is a means of documenting conservation progress, yet it is not often undertaken in a manner that allows direct temporal comparisons. The concept of the serial image is needed to insure timely, accurate and standard images that will prove meaningful to the conservation record.
The role that the serial image takes in the conservation record is dependent on the importance that the conservator places on it, is limited by the range of skills necessary to acquire it, and is only meaningful if the conservator uses standards that enable future conservators and other art professionals the ability to "read" the image.
This paper will explain the importance of the serial image, the skills needed to acquire it, and its place in a conservation record. The concept of standards and the need to establish global standards will be discussed, in addition to the "reasonable" approach instead of the "ideal". The difference of approach between verbal and visual information will be addressed, and the choices that need to be assessed in making the image an adjunct to the record rather than unnecessary.
After more than two years of coordinated effort with six international contributing organizations, the Conservation Information Network was released publicly in September 1987. The Network currently features three online databases: a conservation bibliographic database of over 100,000 citations from international conservation literature, including all issues of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts and the abstracts of ICCROM's Library; a conservation materials database containing over 1,000 records on products relevant to conservation treatment; and a product/supplier database giving names and addresses of international manufacturers, distributors and retailers of materials used in conservation. The Network also includes an electronic mail system which allows subscribers to communicate with colleagues all over the world within seconds. Contributing institutions include the Getty Conservation Institute, ICCROM, CCI, ICOMOS, CAL (Smithsonian Institution) and ICOM.
By integrating computer databases with printed material and a communications system, the Conservation Information Network aims to provide an international information handling system whose format and content are relevant to the needs of conservation professionals. It is designed to be comprehensive, easy to use, and affordable by all members of the profession. This presentation will be an on-line demonstration of what CIN can provide to conservators and will show how the Network works, what information can be extracted from it, and how the electronic mail system functions.
This paper presents the problems involved in the removal of varnish from a painting by Ralph Earl. The "Portrait of Moses Seymour Jr." had several layers of varnish, one of which contained oil. The varnish and test swabs were analyzed using microscopic examination of cross-sections and x-ray fluorescence. The resin soaps and fluorescent dyes introduced by Richard Wolbers at the 1986 WAAC Conference will be discussed.
Please see article in January Newsletter Features section, p.2. In August 1985, the Museum Climatology and Visitor Use Study Project was undertaken at the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument. The project was headed by Dr. Nathan Stolow with assistance supplied by Betty Engel and myself from the Balboa Art Conservation Center. The duration of the project was eighteen months. As stated in the contract, the purpose was "...to conduct a scientific study to document the interaction of the climatic background, environmental factors, inherent condition of the buildings and museum collections and the ramifications of current visitor use levels...and prepare a report with recommendations." The size and complexity of Hearst Castle dictated that the study encompass a multitude of problems to be sorted out and solved. The purpose of this talk though, is to present the study as simply as possible as a model for procedures to be used in future climatology studies.
The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican. It was built in the latter part of the 15th century. The ceiling was painted by the Italian sculptor Michael Angelo in the beginning of the 16th century. The chapel has been in almost constant use since, with a current annual visitor count of 2 million.
The ceiling is being restored by Vatican staff members at the direction of the Vatican Museums.
Slides of the ceiling, both restored and untouched sections, will be shown with a description of first-hand observations and impressions from the floor of the Sistine Chapel and from on the scaffolding. Additionally, in light of recent concerns and controversy, the speaker will attempt to put forth some speculations about what Michel Angelo might have wanted!
Betsy Court, recently elected chairperson of the AIC Paintings Specialty Group, would like to elicit an open discussion on the issue of: Revisions of the AIC Code of Ethics, and the possibility of conservator referrals by the AIC. WAAC members are encouraged to reread the "AIC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice" and "Concerning the AIC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice" by Terrence Mahon in the May 1987 issue (V.2, n.2) of the AIC Paintings Speciality Group Newsletter.
The conservation of plastic objects is a new and relatively unexplored aspect of our field. In order to approach the conservation of polymers, the conservator must have some understanding of their chemistry. Simplified explanation of polymer degradation will be presented. The degradation of specific polymers will be illustrated with examples culled from modern art, historic objects and flea market finds.
Three institutions are currently united in a collaborative research program on adobe preservation. New Mexico State Monuments, the Queensland Museum in Australia and the Getty Conservation Institute have been investigating a multidisciplined approach that includes chemical consolidation, control of rain and wind erosion, structural reinforcement, documentation and predicted weathering through the use of computer modeling and photogrammetric imaging.
Indoor generated aldehydes, ketones, and carboxylic acids have long been recognized to be corrosive to metal and ethnographic objects. As the cost of natural wood products increases, so does the use of wood products in the construction of display cases, temporary exhibition supports, storage cases, and crating. The Getty Conservation Institute has an extensive environmental research program, part of which is a survey of the indoor air quality of eleven museums, two historical buildings, and several libraries. Air samples are taken from galleries, storage areas and display cases; the concentration of airborne pollutants (e.g., formaldehyde, acetone, and formic acid) are determined. The results of the research to date will be presented.
Two illuminated Byzantine manuscripts from the Ludwig collection were studied with non-destructive analytical methods. Energy- dispersive x-ray fluorescence, color infrared photography and low-power microcopy were used for pigment identification and for studying the problem of heavy loss of paint layers from later Byzantine manuscripts. Use of the methods and the result of the examinations will be presented.
The Tomb of Nefertari, favorite wife of Ramses II, is located in West Thebes near Luxor, Egypt. Discovered in 1904 by an Italian archaeological mission, it has been closed to the public for the last 40 years. The wall paintings are in a precarious state of preservation. The Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the Getty Conservation Institute joined efforts in setting up an international and multidisciplinary team of scientists to study the causes of deterioration of the wall paintings and to submit a proposal for final conservation treatment. The methodology for the study, the preliminary results of the analyses, and the emergency consolidation of the wall paintings will be described.
Reference will be made to on-site archaeological conservation in Europe where it remains far more available and where archaeological conservation is recognized as a specialist field of work in its own right. The current status of on-site conservation in Southern California will be discussed along with the need to instruct archaeologists in methods of preventive conservation such as correct packing and storage methods, and to alert them to the benefits of having a conservator at hand during excavation.
(Please see article in January Newsletter Features section, p.5) The Workman and Temple Homestead is a six acre historic site containing eight structures which document nearly 90 years of Southern California life and architecture. The Textile Conservation Program focuses on the Spanish-Colonial Revival residence and its accompanying tepee-like retreat, both constructed in the 1920's.
With limited funding available, a program was developed providing regular house maintenance as well as care for the costume and textile collection. This includes screen vacuuming upholstered furniture and the polar bear rug, dusting cloth lampshades, lining drawers with acid-free material, making padded hangers, wet cleaning flat textiles, and mending period costumes. The combination of an understanding and responsive curatorial staff, qualified volunteers, and a trained textile conservator has produced a uniquely successful program in Textiles Conservation at the Homestead.
Wax has a long history as a sculpture medium. It was used not only for cire perdu casting but also for sculpting human likenesses which in the antique and medieval world were often used in a religious/funerary context. Sixteenth century Italy saw the blossoming of polychrome wax miniature portraits, busts and statuettes for the growing, ever more affluent bourgeoisie. These traditions were continued and developed throughout the Continent and England until the beginning of the 20th century. The approximately 12" x 14" wax horse is probably turn-of-the- century Continental manufacture. At some point the horse was mounted on a wooden base for support and furnished with charro (Mexican cowboy) tack. The saddle was made of untanned hide with some wax additions; the saddle detailing was done with silver wrapped threads and small stamped silver rosettes. This presentation examines the specific procedures in the restoration of this finely detailed wax horse.
Five years ago the 2 colonial wood carvings of lions that have served as guardians to the sanctuary of San Xavier del Bac were stolen. Never recovered, in 1985 duplicates were made by the Ortega family of carousel carvers in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico. After allowing the figures to dry and season in Arizona weather, minor modifications were done on their jaws to make them more closely resemble the originals and then they were finished in the traditional estofado manner, using the formulas as described in the 17th century manuscript of Francisco Pacheco's "Art de la Pintura."
In the inner peristyle at the J. Paul Getty Museum stand 5 bronze statues of dancing maidens, cast copies of the originals found in the Villa dei Papiri. They stand exposed to a harsh outdoor environment and are amongst the first statuary to greet visitors to the museum. After several failed attempts at repatinating them using the traditional method of chemical patination, it was decided a more stable and predictable method was needed. Considering the major problems posed by the exhibiting conditions, the method of choice was replicating a very dark bronze patina by painting the statues with an acrylic urethane paint. The preparation, process and result of this project are discussed.
A major exhibition of Western Apache material culture is in preparation at the Arizona State Museum. Over 150 objects of diverse material compositions, including basketry-plant fiber, native tanned leather, feathers, metals, glass beadwork and textile are represented. This presentation discusses the conservation problems and concerns encountered during examination, treatment and exhibit mount making.
17th century text was given a total conservation treatment. The book is a limp vellum binding construct (non-adhesive structure). The book was removed from its original cover, washed, alkalized, sunbleached and then resewn and laced into a removable vellum cover.
In the past year and a half, the projects that have been worked on in the paper conservation laboratory at Daedalus have fallen into three categories: large size works on paper, large numbers of pieces, and large numbers of large pieces. This presentation discusses how this differs from working with collections on a more piece-meal basis (single or small groups of pieces that the collector feels are in most desperate need of attention that have been more typical of past projects.
[The material used for making drying boards discussed in the presentation was Melamine or Palamine (different trade designations) laminated pressed board. Anita says the coating is similar to Formica but not as water repellent. --Ed.]
Exposure to aging negatives caused severe skin irritation and respiratory difficulty for personnel at the Arizona State Museum. This presentation describes the photographic material and work environment that contributed to illness among staff members. A brief discussion of results from an on-site analysis by industrial hygienists is included. Recommendations are outlined for improved planning, preparation of facilities and for the use of special equipment in projects involving deteriorating nitrate and diacetate negatives. [This paper has been submitted to the Journal of the AIC for publication]
An oversized drawing by the artist Ann McCoy was acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1972 as part of the Young Talent Awards program sponsored by the museum. The drawing is executed in Prisma-Color pencil and graphite on acrylic gesso prepared paper and measures approximately 12' x 6'(117" x 70"). The original method of hanging the drawing, designed by the artist, utilized a rod inserted through a sleeve formed by the folding over of the top edge of the drawing. This method of exhibition resulted in a loose and free flowing presentation similar to that of an oriental scroll. When not on exhibition the drawing had been stored rolled. Conservation inspection of the drawing revealed a number of damages and developing weaknesses in the drawing associated with the artist's technique as well as routine handling and storage. Of major concern was the failure and weakening of the original method for installation. This problem, coupled with cleaving and embrittled areas of gesso, discolored and desiccated tapes, and surface deformations associated with rolling, prompted the proposal of a comprehensive conservation treatment involving repair and consolidation of the drawing as well as the design of a safe method of exhibition and storage. At the outset of the project, the artist was contacted and interviewed. Throughout the project, her input has facilitated the treatment through identification of specific materials and techniques used as well as her own aesthetic concerns and choices in the overall presentation of the drawing.
A step-by-step presentation on the manufacture of metal leaf and metal flake paper. The process explains the preparation of gampi prior to the application of the metal, how to get the metal leaf or flakes onto the paper, and the final steps needed to protect the metal surface and to make it ready for application of painted design, etc.