Volume 14, Number 2, May 1992, pp.28-29
After a three-year dispute, a U.S. District judge has ruled that a Stamford, Conn. school must pay Hiram H. Hoelzer for the restoration of a 6-panel mural, of the New Deal era, which had been thrown into the garbage.
Transco, the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation, a Houston based supplier of natural gas has reached a settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to pay the U.S. Treasury and the State of Alabama $25.5 million for damaging archaeological sites during the construction of gas pipelines. Transco constructed 139 miles of new pipeline in Alabama in 1987 without completing the required archaeological impact studies of 77 prehistoric and historical archaeological sites.
A theme park is being built in Alphen on the Rhine near Rotterdam. The park will be a reconstruction of early designs of buildings of the Middle Ages or before. Being that theme parks are seasonal, the inn and baths will be rented out for conferences.
British born William Burns, a textile engineer, married to a Peruvian woman, has gained wide acclaim for his work on deciphering ancient Peruvian writing. Burns's work explains that the writing is based on a system with no phonetic symbols. This writing system existed before the time of the Spanish conquest. After extensive study of Simi Runes (Peru's aboriginal languages), and analyses of various official Quechuan alphabets, which the Ministry of Education in Peru has approved since 1945, Burns concluded that a writing system composed of 10 consonants and closely related to counting, could be combined in such a way that they could form more than 3 million words. This writing system did not include vowels and could be represented in knots, thus making communication through the "Quipus" entirely possible.
In 1985 the first phase of a restoration plan of the Parthenon was begun. The completion of the restoration of the east facade, the entrance of the Parthenon, has recently been accomplished. This restoration effort is a very large part of a larger plan to restore and save the Acropolis monuments from the effects of the environment and nineteenth and early twentieth- century restoration efforts. Manolis Korres is the Athenian responsible for the restoration project. He is an architect whose goal is to "fashion a more aesthetically coherent and historically accurate building."
This interesting and lengthy article gives careful details of the treatments proposed, and the treatments already carried out. As with any other important restoration project, this site is protected and entwined in endless bureaucracy which serves to delay the approval of any treatment, thus perhaps protecting the monuments from any rash decision making.
Geochemist Richard A. Livingston has recently reported to Science News that the reduction in sulfur dioxide pollution since 1940 makes the Statue of Liberty more susceptible to the salty air of the harbor. The chemical process occurring on the statues surface will eventually erode the green patina which protects the copper surface. The salty moist air of the harbor forms a buildup of chlorides which alter not only the surface color, but also deteriorate the copper metal.
The enormous Oakland Fire, which struck on October 21, 1991, caused extensive damage. 25 lives were lost as well as $2 billion in damage. The area affected, the Claremont district, is home to many artists, collectors, and art dealers. Many important collections were damaged and lost, and several historic homes designed by California architects were also lost.
Senator Luigi Covatta, assistant arts minister, has put before the Cabinet a proposal to lend art treasures to foreign countries. The proposal covers only ancient treasures which are stored away because of lack of display space or security. Covatta claims that in lending out these treasures, the stealing of art will lessen. This claim has met with great opposition. An open letter to Prime Minister Giulio Andreaotti, signed by many historians and restoration experts, urges the Prime Minister to "ditch the proposal before it even is discussed in the Cabinet."
Two Egyptian female mummies, belonging to the Rosemont Victorian House in Pueblo, Colorado, were 'unwrapped' in July at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, using a three dimensional computerized tomography machine. This machine produces images of high-resolution, taken 1 millimeter at a time, from head to toe. The images are then reconstructed electronically by an animation computer, giving researchers a clear image of what is contained both inside and outside the mummies bodies, without having to dissect the mummy bundles.
A $2.3 million air-conditioning system has been bought for installation in the Hermitage Museum. Unfortunately, the purchase of the system has been made without the consultation of art experts and from a company which has no museum environment background. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the economy has plummeted, and the support to this important museum has dwindled to almost nothing. The author presents some of the many problems that currently plague the Hermitage:
Conservators at the museum are running out of the paint and other simple materials they demand for their trade and they don't have the funds for more.
The security system at the museum is so elementary that people have just walked out with valuable art works." "Curators, art historians and conservators at the museum earn such miserly pay that they either moonlight or live near the poverty line.
The Hermitage does not have enough money to insure its art works, so it can no longer send exhibits abroad in exchange for exhibits from other museums." "The central government in Moscow, which had been financing the Hermitage's yearly budget of almost 30 million rubles, ran out of money two months ago.
It is not clear who will be financing the museum in the future. Yevgeny V. Mavleyev, curator of classical sculptures, has said, "If neither the museum administration nor the Ministry of Culture takes steps to stop the installation of the air-conditioning system, install an effective security system and establish a dependable supply of materials for conservation and salaries for the museum employees, then drastic measures must be taken to save the paintings.
We must decide whether we will preserve these art works or not," said Natalya A. Zakharov, who has worked as a curator in the museum for 30 years. "If not, we should send them out to other republics or other countries-or they will just perish.
A detailed technical examination of the tondo in the Sackler Galleries at the Royal Academy in London. It includes a great deal of information on the artist's technique, as well as some description of earlier mounts, present condition, and the details of the treatment of the object.
Dow Chemical Co. has announced the development of a new colorless, nonstick coating that is harder and more stain resistant than Teflon. This new material can be applied in a normal work space, as it is 'applied in water" and does not produce solvent fumes. It is expected to be used on the walls in public places to foil graffiti artists.
The coating is a "hybrid of Teflon and commercial plastics." Dow says the material might be commercially available in as little as a year.
It is now believed that 65 percent of the Diego Giacometti furniture sold at auction by Sotheby's, Christie's and French auctioneers since 1986 is fake. Some illegal copies were apparently produced by Jacques Redoutey, Giacometti's official bronze founder, after the artist's death. Elsewhere, copies were made from molds that had been made from original pieces differing slightly in size from Redoutey's pieces. A number of art dealers were involved including an "art restorer" named Roger Delagarde.
The Council of the European Communities in Brussels has issued a draft regulation to govern the movement of artwork among nations. Under this regulation, export of some classes of items to non-EC countries would require common documentation"; the works needing such an export license would be paintings and drawings by deceased artists worth more than $80,000, or $160,000 if post-1900; antiques with value >$21,500; sculpture with value >$54,000; archaeological finds, monuments, manuscripts >100 years old; books >200 years old. Also, each member country would be directed to set up a central authority to administer claims about illegal exports.
The Council hopes to finalize the regulation by the end of 1992.
Unesco has funded two missions to Yugoslavia to observe and assess the war-related damage to that country's cultural heritage. One estimate is that $20 million will be required for emergency restoration work. At the time of this article, 45% of Dubrovnik's inner city was destroyed. More than 500 monuments and historic buildings have been damaged or destroyed. More than 250 churches, monastaries, and cemeteries, and 370 museums, libraries and archives have been damaged or destroyed. Dubrovnik's synagogue, the second oldest standing building of its kind in Europe, has been damaged. As soon as possible, US/ICOMOS will be asking for volunteers to travel to the historic town of Dubrovnik to assist in its restoration. US/ICOMOS members who are interested in joining such an effort should contact: Terry B. Morton, Tel.202/842-1866; Fax 202/842-1861.