Volume 12, Number 1, Jan. 1990, pp.2-5
For the benefit of members who were not able to attend the WAAC Annual Meeting in Honolulu here follow abstracts of the presentations.
This presentation will share observations based on a recent journey of an American Preservation Technology Delegation to The Peoples Republic of China. Archaeological sites and museums on the northern silk road were the focus of the trip.
1989 marked the first year a field conservation component was included in the archaeological excavations at the major South American Site of Tiwanaku. The excavations were led by Dr. Alan Kolata of the University of Chicago, and the conservation at the site, established through the initiative of the Getty Conservation Institute, included the establishment of a field conservation laboratory, and the teaching of a short course in archaeological conservation. This presentation will review some of the material types encountered and steps taken to evaluate preservation concerns at the site. Activities and results of the field course will also be presented and will include an overview of lifting methods employed, conservation treatments, as well as site documentation and preservation concerns.
See Features section.
Laboratory and field studies are being conducted to evaluate the performance of diisocyanate derived polymers as a treatment for the conservation of earthen materials and structures. Various application techniques, solvent systems, and solution concentrations have been tested to determine the most effective method for consolidating and improving the physical properties of adobe, sand-clay mixtures and clay-bearing materials. Enhanced consolidation, compressive strength and resistance to disaggregation by water result from treatment with diisocyanates. Research on depth of penetration, effects of weathering and discoloration is in progress. The possibility of treating historic earthen structures is promising but more work is necessary before widespread usage of diisocyanates could be considered.
There has been much discussion lately regarding the treatment of tapa. One important point has been underemphasized: the variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and intended use of the products and their influence on treatment design. Concentrating on barkcloth of the Pacific, the paper will illustrate some of the regional differences and subtleties of technique.
The Pacific Regional Conservation Center at Bishop Museum has been using a controlled cycled freeze method to treat museum collections with possible insect infestations for nearly three years. During this time much has been learned about the cycled freeze process and the kinds of artifact materials and structures that are at risk during the procedure. PRCC Senior Objects Conservator Dale Kronkright will clarify why the cycled freeze procedure is designed to provide high mortality rates in all insect life stages. He will review the artifact materials and structures which have been problematic as a result of the treatment. A reprint from PRCC's spring 1989 conservation newsletter discussing questions commonly asked about museum artifacts and the deep freeze will be provided and tours through the Museum's large walk-in freezer will be offered the Monday following the conference.
Facsimiles produced in a laboratory can simulate, to certain degrees, problematic painted wood surfaces of ethnographic objects. Wood objects painted with clays or ochers bound with an insufficient amount of binder or an ineffective binder often have surfaces of loose, flaking or powdering paint. Facsimiles are being used at GCI to research new materials and methods for the conservation of these objects, and also to determine the causes of deterioration. The paint manufacturing technologies of cultures (Oceanic and African) whose objects often exhibit problems with the painted surfaces are being considered in the production of these facsimiles. The cracking patterns and the flake morphology of the facsimiles are under study, to explore a possible relationship with the pigment and binder type, the method of paint application, movement or the wood substrate (resulting from fluctuations in relative humidity), or any possible combinations of these three. These patterns could then provide visual clues to the underlying causes of deterioration. Strategies for consolidating or readhering porous, flaking paint without affecting a matte appearance are also presented.
A conservative approach to the conservation of stained glass will be discussed which will include some practical ideas that the author has used in the recent conservation of stained glass panels at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Conservation treatments on historic objects are rarely typical or routine. Unique problems demand unique solutions, and we are often challenged to venture away from the tried and true. Such excursions are sometimes productive and sometimes not, while sometimes we're not too sure without the test of time. This talk will briefly touch on several examples of treatment methods and materials that were novel or suggest avenues for research. These include filling for alabaster and marble, a varnish removing poultice for polychromy, a method for reshaping rawhide, a possible treatment for lead corrosion and (if there's time) some interesting findings regarding UV filter aging and exploratory XRF studies of California silverware using computer modeling.
The remounting of a Japanese folding screen is a very complex, multi-layered conservation treatment. Traditional Japanese techniques require years of training and continual use of these skills. This presentation will try to inform the audience of the procedures involved, the need for cooperation between conservators experienced in Japanese mounting techniques and the necessity of educating the western eye toward expectations of treatment results.
Ms. Thompson will update a talk given at the WAAC conference in Yosemite last year. This presentation will discuss the ongoing collaborative conservation treatment of Rauschenberg's "combine painting" involving paper, textile, painting, and objects conservators. The working relationship between conservators will be discussed, as well as with the artist and his assistant. Treatment chronology will be presented, as well as a brief description of the conservation treatment in each speciality. Some of the problems, challenges, and solutions encountered in this complex piece during treatment will also be discussed.
This presentation deals with the treatment of a Billy Al Bengston painting which was structurally damaged causing the Masonite to become distorted and crack in four directions. The distortions in the Masonite were evened out by applying pressure in certain areas and pulling other areas. This is done by a system of screws working in both directions. The screws are left on the verso of the painting and remain adjustable.
The Los Angeles Central Library is under a major rehabilitation and expansion program which will more than double the existing area of the library. On April 29, 1986, the Library was the victim of an arson fire which took seven hours to contain and destroyed 375,000 volumes of books and periodicals. In addition to the damage to books, furniture, and the building itself, the intense heat and smoke caused varying degrees of damage to the historic artwork in the building, including the murals and decorative stencilled ceilings throughout the building. A second arson fire in September of 1986, and a third accidental fire in October of 1988 caused further damage to the artwork. This paper will discuss the year-long evaluation and testing program, treatment, re-treatment, and the difficulties encountered in a project of this magnitude.
The study was prompted by the occasion of the upcoming restoration of the historic library building which will include conservation of all of the artwork. It focuses on the artist's materials and techniques, which are ultimately related to the conceptual development of his mural decorations. The pigment analysis of the murals was supplemented with analysis of two of Sargent's oil color palettes. In 1893 Sargent signed a contract to decorate the walls of a prominent hall in the Boston Public Library. In the subsequent nineteen years he created a total of seventeen oil paintings and sections of painting on canvas which were then attached to the walls of the library's hall. Paintings were installed at four different times between 1895-1919. "The Triumph of Religion" included the Pagan themes and those of the Old Testament on the north wall, and themes of the New Testament on the south wall.
The ancient treatises on Persian painting yield information on Persian painters' philosophy, materials, and techniques. The talk will briefly review those treatises with special attention to the materials and painting technique. The results of a study of pigments on Persian paintings in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection with modern scientific instruments will be discussed. Also, a group of treatments done on Persian paintings on paper will be reviewed.
Discussion of the repair of a complex tear in the "E III, Airship (Dirigible)," a contemporary sculpture by artist Bryan Hunt, which consists of a balsawood strut support covered by copper leafed and painted paper with no accessibility to the interior.
The lecture will present the materials used at the J. Paul Getty Museum for the display, storage, and packing of art objects. A variety of materials and methods of use will be discussed and illustrated along with cautionary notes on material usage and materials to avoid.
Objects are very sensitive to extreme changes in our environment, particularly the fluctuations of relative humidity. Many mechanical climate control systems have proven to be ineffective in maintaining constant humidities. In the past five years, passive microclimates have received a great deal of attention as an alternative solution in the preservation of the object on exhibit. This talk will cover the research, building, and testing of a passive low-cost microclimate exhibit case. Collaboration with John Burke, Conservator at the Oakland Museum, and Steven Weintraub, President of Art Preservation Services, led to the building of a prototype which is currently being tested at the Getty Conservation Institute. The purpose of this project is to see if a microclimate exhibit case could be designed which could be built and/or retrofitted by many different kinds of museums. This meant the prototype had to be affordable, use inert materials, and be as leak proof as possible for maximum buffering capability. The testing is nearly complete and results are being analyzed.
The factors affecting the display and storage conditions for the Dead Sea Scrolls are reviewed. These include: 1) the chemical and physical stability of collagen (the major constituent in remains derived from skin); 2) the traditional methods for the manufacture of parchment and the unique method of manufacture of the Dead Sea Scrolls by the Essenic community; 3) the current recommendations for the storage of parchment in the conservation literature; and 4) the results of biological studies and mechanical testing performed at the GCI to determine environmental conditions for the long-term stability of the Scrolls. In addition, the results of pilot studies using instrumental methods of analysis such as WAXS (Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering), cross-polarization magic-angle spinning 13C NMR, and FTIR-ATR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy-Attenuated Total Reflectance) to determine the physical and chemical state of parchment samples are presented.
As conservators, we have been trained to develop strategies for cleaning and repairing single works of art. Most of us have not been trained to apply this knowledge to large groups of artifacts. Occasionally conservators are required to organize and manage complex projects such as disaster relief efforts, museum conservation assessments, or the treatment of large collections with many similar materials. The initial planning phase for these projects is always crucial. It may require contract negotiation, detailed planning of project phases and working with personnel who know little about conservation ethics. This presentation will include a short discussion on the basics of planning and organizing such efforts. The use of computers for both data management and word processing will be discussed. Examples will be given of the development of several complex projects.
Large three-dimensional art, both indoors and outdoors, and its popularity for recent exhibitions, can cause enormous logistical and financial problems, even for a relatively well-endowed institution such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. While the situations may appear overwhelming, they become manageable when the transportation and installation process is broken into progressive steps. It is also important to keep communication between personnel open and focused; to be sensitive to staff capabilities and limitations; to know of available outside resources; to maintain both a professional attitude and a sense of humor. Selected examples of projects recently completed and planned for the future at LACMA will be used during this presentation. These include: Norbert Kricke's Space Sculpture, 1963 (an outdoor stainless steel sculpture); Sorrel Etrog's Moses, 1963 (an outdoor bronze); Fuji Chuichi's Untitled, 1985 (a wooden indoor sculpture); the current Robert Longo Retrospective exhibition; and a brief look at the planned installation of modern and contemporary works for the East Sculpture Garden, to open May 1990.