Volume 14, Number 1, Jan. 1992, pp.3-5
The 1991 WAAC Annual Meeting was held September 29th through October 1st in Seattle, Washington. The papers from the meeting are listed below, in the order of presentation. The summaries were written by the authors/presenters, except as noted.
A report to illustrate the coordination necessary to prepare and record 1,500 objects for the initial installation in a new facility. In particular, a look at the development of new mount systems incorporating curatorial concept, exhibit design, aesthetics, conservation concerns, and some seismic mitigation and that which is fiscally, physically and finally, possible.
This paper discusses 3 land grant documents signed by Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California. Other than their historical significance, the documents have great technical value. The grants were written on thin transparentized paper bearing a unique watermark (see Technical Exchange column, this issue of WAAC Newsletter). Several conservation and custodial issues had to be carefully addressed prior to choosing the course of treatment. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
A discussion of the parts of artists' brushes. The liaison between the tool and the user will be considered as functional and arcane dimension of the ability to express a concept. Bristle, hair, natural and synthetic fiber differences and variations in configuration, ferrules, handles and dimensions will be examined considering their usage and construction. Physical examples and slides will be shown and a limited glossary will be available.
A substantial body of literature exists for conservation research, and there is also considerable primary source material relating to the conservation profession as well as collections of specimen materials that are of invaluable use as research tools. This talk is published as an article, "Literature Sources for Conservation Research," this issue of WAAC Newsletter.
This discussion will explore the need for creating a closer working relationship between conservator and conservation framer. The discussion will include: hinge/paper compatibility; glazing pros and cons; set-back problems (plastic, wood or paper); pricing out speciality techniques; and many more. The aim is to open communication between the two disciplines in order to help everyone receive optimum results.
Carl Akeley's Four Seasons white-tailed deer dioramas contain objects of historical importance. The widely-used techniques for large mammal taxidermy were developed with these deer mounts. Akeley's use of hollow manikins made of cloth, paper mache, and wire mesh gave the specimens a lightweight and durable quality that has only recently been surpassed by resin manikins. A cast- wax process for botanical accessory fabrication also was invented by Akeley during the assemblage of these dioramas. Accidental damage necessitated treatment of one buck's face and many of the wax leaves. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
A brief account of some of the technology of taxidermy mounts and typical materials used in their fabrication will be given. Some of the problems with taxidermy collections will be discussed. These include health and safety issues surrounding the use of contact poisons, pest control issues, past interventive treatments, typical storage conditions, and mechanical damage. Some solutions to housing and display problems for taxidermy specimens will be offered. (Author's abstract abbrev.)
Five panelists discussed what they have learned about multicultural participation in museum collection care. An edited transcript of the discussion appears in the article "Multicultural Participation in Conservation Decision Making," this issue of WAAC Newsletter.
A discussion of the philosophy, financing and implementation of the City of Seattle's collection management program for its 1,600 artwork collection. Issues include the lack of adequate funding and long-term conservation planning for Seattle and other national public art programs; and Seattle's approach to conservation for varied public artworks including historic bronzes, portable collections of art, design team projects, and environmental sculpture. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
This paper will consider the importance of the sculptural surface of Rodin's bronzes. In the light of Rodin's intent, the ethics of conservation treatment of deteriorated versions of the "Thinker" will be pondered. The fabrication techniques and internal structure will be contemplated, with some interesting discoveries. The paper will reflect upon options, along with the results of one set of choices. A "permanent" but reversible mounting system will be appraised.
The permanent collection of contemporary art in the terminals of the San Francisco Int.'l Airport is a pioneer program siting public art in an airport environment. Even relatively new and sturdy artworks are extremely vulnerable in this abusive environment, and deteriorate rapidly unless properly sited, protected and maintained. The collection, now 10 years old, was studied to determine: the construction and inherent sensitivities of the art and media, the current condition of each artwork, site appropriateness, installation and case inadequacies, deleterious environmental factors, effects of public interaction, effects of natural disaster (the Oct. '89 earthquake), and immediate and long-term conservation need. (Authors' abstract abbreviated)
An exhibit was developed which presented different aspects of conservation using displays that invited the museum visitor to take a closer look at the methods that are used to protect and preserve the antiquities in the collection. A "behind-the-scenes" video of the conservation laboratory introduced the visitor to the exhibition. Special sections included a large screen microscope in which pigment and mineral samples were viewed, a case that presented the methods and materials involved in the reconstruction of a Greek vase, and an environmental section which featured a cut-away view of a microclimate case and a "shake table" used for designing seismically stable mounts. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
This 18th century chandelier consists of four iron arms overlaid with rectangular pieces of glass which extend from a central iron spindle. Secondary armatures are made of silvered brass set with glass, crystal beads, and rock crystal drops. Many of the glass elements throughout the chandelier are backed with a painted silvered-copper foil. Colored glass beads as well as gilt copper accents have been added throughout. The chandelier needed to be cleaned. Because the mixture of copper and brass wire showed extensive signs of deterioration, it was determined that the entire wiring system should be replaced with a more stable material. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
Dermashield (tradename), a skin barrier product, was presented and demonstrated. Dispensed as a foam, it made from more than 20 ingredients that allegedly penetrate and bond with the exterior layers of dead skin to form a durable barrier lasting 4-8 hours. It is said to protect the skin from both hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances, strong acids and alkalis, most organic chemicals, and most biological agents. (Information from author's abstract.) Note: WAAC does not endorse products. Claims made about Dermashield are made by the author of this presentation and have not been verified by WAAC or WAAC Newsletter. Publication of the author's claims should not be construed as a recommendation of the product by WAAC or WAAC Newsletter.
This paper discusses the moisture buffering capability of Solander boxes. The rate of moisture intrusion into the Solander boxes, expressed in terms of their half-lives, was faster than the rate of moisture extrusion out of the Solander boxes. The effect of mat boards as well as the effect of proper closure conditions were studied. The Solander boxes filled with mat boards served as good moisture barriers when the external relative humidity was low.
A plethora of foil laminate barrier materials have found wide- ranging uses in military, industrial and commercial packaging, but are relatively new to conservation. Among some unusual applications that will be discussed, they are invaluable in the construction of low-cost microclimates, storage or shipping containers and even oxygen deprivation fumigation bubbles. This paper will describe some of the commercially available types, their properties, and techniques for employing them successfully.
The formation of oxalate crusts on calcareous rock surfaces is a by-product of lichen growth. This paper presents a new method for the identification of oxalate layers in cross sections of lichen- damaged limestone using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) micro- spectroscopy. Numerous cross-section samples of limestone containing lichen growth were analyzed using a combination of computer controlled x-y stage and 2-dimensional FT-IR mapping. FT-IR analysis was complemented by UV fluorescence studies of the oxalate deposits on weathered stones. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
In the revolution of Dec. 1989, the N'l Museum of Art in Bucharest, Romania, sustained severe damage when troops fired into its galleries. Among the scores of pictures damaged was "Mother and Child," attributed to Orazio Gentileschi. Shrapnel tore through it, ripping out a large portion of the canvas. This paper discusses the treatment of the painting from cleaning to replacing lost canvas, to lining and creating a facsimile of the texture which was applied to the large fill. Both traditional methods and novel approaches are detailed. (Author's abstract abbrev.)
The art conservation literature does not indicate that the transfer of a painting on a metal substrate to a new support has ever been attempted. There are several potential mechanisms for the delamination, blistering or deterioration of paintings on metals. Performing statistically representative studies can become onerous and may not solve the problem. A scientific approach often has difficulty addressing the case for individual objects. This paper outlines the preliminary experiments needed to justify the very drastic measure of transfer. The necessary, evolution of a larger project involving actual painting treatments, as well as extensive research into the history and technology of paintings on metal substrates, is described.
Eight topics will be covered: displaying textiles on a slant board; humidification using cool water vapor; use of the Rainbow vacuum cleaner and dental vacuum; use of fabric paint (applied to a modern support fabric) for loss compensation in a patterned fabric or embroidery; laboratory safety; sources for some hard-to-find items--stainless steel entomological pins, curved surgical needles and silk sewing thread with a broad range of colors; use of conservation-quality batting and Pellon-like webbing; and a comparison of various sheer fabrics used to protect deteriorated textiles. A handout with supplier addresses and telephone numbers was included. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
In June of 1991, seven American conservators and one coordinator traveled to the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. The objectives of the program were to address topics of concern to museums in Central America, to share ideas and techniques, and to build a network of support and information in the area of conservation and preventive care of cultural property. A 4-day lecture/workshop was held at the end of the tour; thirty museum professionals representing each of the Central American countries, including Belize, participated. (Author's abstract abbreviated.)
A discussion of the frustrations, and occasional success, of one person's search for computer software that would make it possible to document conservation treatments visually in an IBM environment. Three types of graphics-based programs and their strengths and weakness will be discussed. Criteria used for selection of software included both flexibility and price. A new type of digitizing camera that instantly creates computer images will be displayed.
A discussion of the treatments required to structurally stabilize these 4- to 7-ton sculptures. Requirements for seismic safety and specifications for new bases and mounting procedures. Two of the sculptures required further seismic reinforcement, and an engineered mounting system was designed by Jerry Podany of the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Since 1988, the Getty Conservation Institute has pursued research into nontoxic methods of museum pest control. This has centered on the use of pure nitrogen where death occurs primarily by desiccation (even at 50% RH) after the insects become quiescent from oxygen deprivation. This work has been carried out in two steps, the first under the direction of Nieves Valentin (oxygen ca. 0.5%) and Michael Rust (oxygen ca. 0.1%). All life stages of 12 species were investigated by Rust both in open dishes and inside model objects. The results show that the use of nitrogen as an alternative to traditional fumigation is effective and not as time consuming as previously published results where the oxygen concentrations are 1% or higher.