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  1. Use of Spectroscopic and Petrographic Techniques and Image Analysis for Determination of the Techniques used and Condition of the Analco Virgin
    Maria Casas, Master Researcher, Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico

    In 1999 there was an earthquake that severely damaged the south tower of the Analco Temple, which is the first indigenous parish in the city of Puebla. During the architectural restoring work, the team found that the tower access areas had been bricked up and the internal stairway was removed. In the interior a fill was found at 2.63 meters high that lead to an archeological excavation. Material fragments found included ceramics, leather, human and animal bones and metal, among others, with characteristics of Pre Hispanic burials.

    One of the most revealing finds was the painting of a virgin, apparently the one of the Immaculate Conception, painted on a stone slab with a very unique and unknown technique. It was found divided in two, and had some lacerations and missing pieces. The features of the image, the proportion and the color palette, suggested the hand of a European artist, however, it seems to have been made using indigenous techniques. This image of incomparable historical value and context was kept safe without considering the correct conservation methods, and therefore is still deteriorating.

    To be able to make a restoration proposal for a cultural asset, deep knowledge about it is essential. All of this is possible today, thanks to the application of different analytic techniques. In this particular case, the implementation of spectroscopic (FT-IR, SEM-EDS, IR) and petrographic techniques and image analysis made it possible to determine the nature of the constituent materials and the execution methods as well as to evaluate the condition of the painting. These are essential elements necessary to formulate future intervention, conservation and rescue proposals for this peculiar pictorial technique.

    (Poster download not available)

  2. Mark Rothko’s Early Works on Paper: A Technical Analysis of Modern Materials
    John Delaney, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Imaging Scientist, National Gallery of Art; Lynn Lee, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Conservation Science, Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard Art Museum; Kathryn Morales, Conservation Scientist, National Gallery of Art; Paola Ricciardi, Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Conservation Science, National Gallery of Art; Mathieu Thoury, Charles E. Culpepper Fellow in Conservation Science, National Gallery of Art; and Annie Wilker, Paper Conservator, National Archives and Records Administration

    Primarily known for his abstract colorfield paintings, American artist Mark Rothko (1903-1970) also created hundreds of works of art on paper throughout his career. Many of Rothko’s earliest works on paper exhibit his characteristic sense of color harmony but are representational, often depicting women and children or landscapes. One group of these works, likely created between the late 1920s and early 1940s, was carried out in what appears to be water-based poster paint on colored construction paper. During this period Rothko was employed as a children’s art teacher, and it appears he may have been inspired by the materials used in his classroom.

    The project involved researching the palette Rothko used in these brightly colored works on paper. From the more than sixty such pieces held in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a selection of works was chosen for an in-depth study. The pieces examined represent the wide range of colors Rothko employed in both his media and colored paper supports. Works on paper such as these are notoriously difficult to analyze: the media is often applied in thin layers, the works themselves are small, and sampling possibilities are often limited. The many modern synthetic pigments present in Rothko’s palette provided additional challenges in the analysis of these works. The colorants identified through the use of multi-spectral reflectance and fluorescence imaging, vis-IR fiber optical reflectance spectroscopy, 3-D fluorescence spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence, and attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectrometry include: barium white, vermilion, ultramarine, Prussian blue, chrome green, viridian green, and iron earths such as a brown earth, red earth, and yellow ochre. Modern synthetic pigments found include PY 3, PO 1, and PR 83.

    (Poster download not available)

  3. The Evolution of Better Management Practices or How to Improve Client Relations and to Avoid Litigation
    Patricia Dillon, President, Putnam Art Advisors & Consultants

    Outside of the academic and museum world, most conservators work solo or in small partnerships. Although highly trained in science and/or the arts, these professionals are ill prepared to operate in the rigors of competitive business practices and potential litigation. Successful conservators often work with objects that are valued in the high six or seven figures. Recently, these client-collectors paid even more for the same objects. This makes clients very invested in the piece to be conserved. Sometimes the depth of that monetary investment can obscure any artistic, historical, or aesthetic value to the owner and can make the conservator vulnerable to any misstep, real or perceived, by the owner client. Moreover, conservators working with modern and contemporary objects are challenged by the degradation of previously unknown materials.

    This year has seen the closing of some of the most prestigious conservation educational centers around the world. The impact of the closing of these major institutions is multifold. Accordingly, conservators are facing a world with less supporting academic research and with fewer well trained professionals. Presented with increasingly novel challenges in the form of new mediums that are disintegrating in ways that have not been seen before and a client base that has spent more money on pieces than any generation before and are unlikely to recoup that investment in their lifetime, conservators face potential litigation as never before.

    How does a conservator ensure good client relations and avoid problems that may lead to litigation? The key to success in any business is to determine when to be the professional you are and when to bring in other professionals allowing them to do what they do best. Don’t attempt to act like a lawyer if you are not one. Most small business owners, conservators included, get into trouble in one of the following areas: 1) problematic paperwork; 2) failure to communicate well or at all with clients; or 3) they promise more than they can deliver and/or exaggerate their credentials and expertise.

    A review of the paperwork generated by a conservator including advertising materials, initial contact letters, retainer agreements, reports, and any follow up materials produced by their business can reveal a business’s most vulnerable aspects. What is necessary to protect the conservator’s best interests and what should be avoided? Finally, the legal and ethical guidelines for conservators will be outlined. Using a framework of solid paperwork, good communication skills and a working knowledge of the framework of legal and ethical guides, the paper will be a tool toward best practices to help conservators protect their own interests.

    (Poster download not available)

  4. Time Documented: Information as a Conservation Agent of Contemporary Art
    Ana Paula dos Santos, Collection Coordinator, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP)

    Concerning artwork, it has already been said that conservation is “a race against time.” Especially in contemporary art, this “time” is a post-modern phenomenon, which can be framed in the “representation crisis.” The main question is about guaranteeing the exhibition of this artwork in the future, both materially and conceptually. This includes the preservation of unconventional materials that are not traditionally found in a museum. Documentation is the main factor in preserving the ideology of a work of art. The primary source of information about a work of art is the artist, but other professionals must also be consulted due to the fact that many contemporary artists collaborate with others that are outside of their area of expertise in the construction of artwork.

    The Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP) has some installations in its collection that require new thoughts about the technical procedures for contemporary art, each one for its own peculiar reasons. Through contact with the artist, especially during the first time the artwork was mounted at MAM-SP, both technical and conceptual information were gathered. The information about the specific space requirements for the installation and the replacement of materials according to the space where the exhibition takes place is documented. Some information given by the artist is abstract and conceptual but it is part of the artwork. Obviously, some doubts can appear during the mounting process in other venues because the exhibition spaces are different from the one where the artwork was first mounted and the curator may have a new proposal for installation. At that time, the new configuration must be recorded and kept with the original instructions.

    Among MAM-SP artworks with this profile are: Uma Vista (2002) by Cássio Vasconcellos, Picnic (2000) by Marco Paulo Rolla, and Transestatal (2006) by Marcelo Cidade. The first one is a photographic installation which requires millimetric precision, the second one is about the presence of artificial and natural traces, and the third one brings the unusual use of garbage and water inside the exhibition space. For each artwork, a mounting scheme was developed and sent to the artist to be approved.

    Contemporary art can be defined as a work in process in many ways. The technical procedures are constantly being evaluated; in other words, the past and the future are on the spot all the time.

    (Poster download not available)

  5. Geraldine’s Scrapbook of Dresses: a Case Study
    Anna R. Friedman, Book and Paper Conservation Fellow, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate

    Geraldine’s Scrapbook of Dresses is a late 19th century blank book which Geraldine’s mother filled with swatches of fabric from the clothing that she made for her daughter. The swatches are accompanied by manuscript annotations referring to when the swatches were used and for what kind of garment, and sometimes the price per yard for the fabric. The pages often include small printed pictures from the Butterick sewing patterns showing the style of the clothing made. The original spine was missing and what was left of the sewing was causing severe damage to the pages. The bulk of the inclusions in the book severely distorted the text block. There are more swatches towards the head of the book than towards the tail, there are more swatches in the front of the book than in the back, and there are more swatches closer to the gutter than the fore edge of the book.

    The vast majority of published articles on scrapbooks and albums deal with the myriad problems inherent in mass-produced books designed to be used as scrapbooks or albums. None of those articles address how to treat a scrapbook in a blank-book structure that was never intended to be filled with many layers of added material. Blank books stuffed with ephemera are a fairly common problem in archives, as they do not have the nice, rectangular profile of normal books and are often wedge shaped or deteriorating rapidly due to the instability of their contents.

    This paper discusses a repair structure that creates an allowance for all the extra material scraps added to the binding while restoring the book to a sewn codex form. Since the book sections are wildly different in thickness, they need to be sewn in a way that accounts for that variety. Standard all-along sewing patterns would need to be too loose to keep the sections aligned and stable. Loose sewing would allow the sections to slide past each other, possibly damaging the fabric swatches in the book which are currently in good condition. The solution to the problem comes in two parts: First, the sections are each individually sewn with a pamphlet-stitch to a concertina guard. Second, the concertina guard and the sections are sewn to stiff support tapes using a packed-sewing to give each section the proper amount of space in the spine. The support tapes can then be laced into a binding structure or can be hidden behind paste downs in a case binding.

    (Poster download not available)

  6. Mount Auburn Cemetery: Revisiting the Past, Informing Our Present and Future
    David Gallagher, Chief of Conservation, Mount Auburn Cemetery

    Founded in 1831, Mount Auburn Cemetery is a designated National Historic Landmark and is recognized as one of the country’s most significant cultural landscapes. The challenges we face are not unique to cemeteries yet our cemetery’s context, age, scale, and anticipated longevity can bring into sharpened focus a number of the preservation issues dealt with by all. Our diverse landscape of living, changing horticulture and myriad of built works has the potential to be a laboratory where materials and techniques might be explored and might ultimately inform preservation challenges beyond our gates. Our mission is to honor the dead in a tranquil landscape; simultaneously protecting our heritage. We expect to remain viable for generations to come yet our monuments will decay. In the context of perpetuity, we moderate that decay, embrace the changing landscape and integrate new burial space; all while focused on preserving the overall character of Mount Auburn.

    In the past headstones needing to be re-set or repaired with the lot representative unwilling or unable to shoulder the cost, were buried in place. Repairs often used incompatible materials with poor craftsmanship. Horticulture tended to take precedence over monument care. Changing taste as well as a need to decrease costs led to the removal of cast iron fencing and ornate granite curbing. Monuments were washed with detrimental materials and aggressive techniques. Financial constraints dictated preservation decisions.

    Presently we do not bury monuments; they are repaired or stored. While employing good conservation practice, we are open to new techniques and materials. Our projects are of limited scale which allows us to monitor different conservation efforts over an extended period of time. Washing is done with less aggressive materials and techniques. A pilot project is underway to streamline the ongoing multi-year survey at Mount Auburn. The use of the Tablet PC Annotation system will be evaluated for its ability to create a visual link between the data in Microsoft Access and the survey area. We are codifying the philosophy and practices including a Statement of Values and Commitments for the Preservation of Structures. Consultants have offered thoughtful and pertinent insights on which we can base future preservation decisions and there is a commitment to increase the size and professionalism of the in-house staff.

    We believe that in the future we will be able to revisit and possibly resurrect buried monuments. We will continue to be open to new techniques and materials. Careful planning means we will integrate new commemorative space within the historic fabric while allowing for adaptation as burials and cremation may give way to alternative ways of commemoration. We are committed to Mount Auburn as a center of community programs, education, and advocacy. We are constantly exploring ways to generate new revenue streams through services and public programs. We feel we’ve built a solid foundation to ensure that Mount Auburn Cemetery is viable into the 22nd century.

    (Poster download not available)

  7. Failure to Bind: A Re-Examination of the Ageing of Hook and Loop Fasteners
    Joy Gardiner, Textile Conservator/Assistant Director of Conservation, Winterthur Museum & Country Estate and Winterthur Assistant Professor in Art Conservation, and Joseph Weber, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Conservation Science, University of Delaware in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation Program

    Hook and loop fasteners, the most well-known brand being Velcro, have been in production for over 50 years and are widely used by conservators in the mounting of textiles. In the past few years, there have been two incidents at the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in which window hangings on long term display in the museum’s rooms in the house have spontaneously fallen. It was found in both cases that the method of attachment was hook and loop fasteners and the detachment was the result of the failing of these fasteners. Upon examination, the hook side of the fastener was found to be noticeably softer in feel and less able to grab and hold than new material and the loop side was quite grayed. A few past discussions in the conservation literature have mentioned concerns for the long term chemical stability of these fasteners and the need to use brands found to be most inert and stable. This poster will further investigate the chemical causes of degradation as well as explore possible physical interactions attributing to the failure. Also, this will serve as a call to those with objects on long term display with this method of attachment to assess the potential need for careful monitoring and/or periodically scheduled replacement of the fasteners.

    (Poster download not available)

  8. Preventive Conservation and Public Participation in Preserving Cultural Heritage
    William Gamboa, Conservator, Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar, Colombia

    For more than a decade museums have begun to change how they view and interact with a diverse public; museums now want visitors to actively participate in the life of the museum by communicating their experiences and thoughts during their visits.

    This new approach to public participation leads visitors to share the significance of their rewarding experiences and aims to have visitors consider the collections as their own. It is crucial for preventive conservation to take advantage of this new perspective. Most of the time interaction with the public has been considered a risk to collections but now it can be turned into an opportunity by showing visitors the work of conservation and helping them understand the public’s role in preserving collections.

    In Colombia there have been diverse opportunities to demonstrate this new approach. Most have been through exhibitions showing the work of conservators and the importance of preserving cultural heritage. These programs are most successful when visitors can interact with conservators. This leads to new kinds of questions and exchanges, often different than initial expectations.

    Last year the Independence Museum had an exhibition about the conservation of one of its most representative objects. There was a conservation workshop with microscopes, photographs, and tools and also different conservation exercises. Visitors were invited to participate by asking conservators questions while they were working and were allowed to see the conservation process in detail. This experience resulted in a public consciousness of the importance of conservation and of the responsibilities of visitors. A public that considers museum collections of cultural heritage as their own helps in preservation. A public committed to preservation is very important to reducing the constant risks faced by cultural heritage materials.

    (Poster download not available)

  9. Ceramics Affected by Salts: A Comparative Study of Treatment Methodologies in Chile and at the Arizona State Museum
    Francisca Gili and Ester Echenique, Conservators, Universidad de Chile

    The condition of archaeological ceramics can be affected by cultural use, physical and chemical changes during burial, and the characteristics of the raw materials. Soluble salts are one of the most common causes of damage: with fluctuations in humidity, the migration of these salts within the ceramic can cause extensive damage to the structure and surface of the object.

    There are diverse conservation methodologies to treat artifacts affected by salt. The choice of treatment strategy often depends on the specific needs of the object and the institution. Treatment methodologies may include the characterization of salts (soluble and insoluble) as this can provide essential information to the conservator which will determine the intervention process. This intervention can be indirect (i.e. preventive conservation through control of humidity and temperature) or direct such as desalination in water.

    Following different experiences in several Chilean institutions and in the United States (Arizona State Museum) a question arises: Are there standardized methodologies for the conservation treatment of ceramics? From this question, the main goal of this poster is to examine several approaches for the treatment of salt damaged pottery from representative institutions in Chile and the Arizona State Museum in the United States. The institutions represented all focus primarily on pottery from arid lands with high levels of salts. By highlighting key aspects of treatment strategies from Chile and the U.S. we wish to create a cross-cultural dialogue between conservators from each country.

    (Poster download not available)

  10. In-situ Evaluation of Autochrome Light Fastness Using a Microfadometer in Transmission Mode
    Pilar Hernandez-Romero, Conservator (Mexico), Ottawa Museum Network, Canada; Martine Gillet and Chantal Garnier, Scientists, and Bertrand Lavédrine, Director, Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections, Paris

    Primary achievements in photography are based on research in the natural sciences: initially for black and white photographs and later for a permanent color process. Currently preservation scientists in cultural heritage institutions investigate the stability of  photographic materials. Although standards and recommendations for preservation, including for exhibition, have been published many questions remain concerning the risks of exhibition; autochrome plates require special preservation consideration.
    This study aims to bring quantitative data of the light sensitivity of the colored grains by nondestructive in-situ measurement and establish a correlation between the light dose (lux hours) and the fading as the resulting data should be useful to preservation decision making regarding the exhibition of autochromes.

    A light transmission microscope was specially equipped with an optical fiber carrying very high intensity incident spot of light. Light was transmitted through an autochrome plate, collected through the microscope lens, and conducted to the spectrophotometer with an optical fiber added in the camera output of the microscope. A specific shutter was added in order to select only the light coming out from one starch grain. We tested numerous violet, red, and green starch grains on three autochrome plates.
    This work confirmed that autochromes are sensitive to light and their display must be highly controlled to ensure their long–term preservation. It shows also that it is possible to use the microfading test in a transmission mode on a microscope and then to measure the light fastness of tiny samples.

    (Poster download not available)

  11. The Study of Amateur Hand-Coloring Kits for 20th Century Photographs
    Jonathan L. Hoppe, Senior, Art Conservation Undergraduate Program, University of Delaware

    Since its introduction nearly 170 years ago, people have sought ways to bring color to photography. Because the earliest photographic images were black and white, and the public expressed a strong desire for colored images, both professionals and amateurs have hand colored photographs with oil- and water-based paints and other colorizing media since the 1840s. Though the introduction of color photography has rendered the hand coloring of photographs largely obsolete, numerous examples of the process that still survive can tell us much about the times in which they were created. Identifying the pigments and the mediums used to hand color photographs allows conservators and curators to better treat and understand these photographs.

    Spectroscopic analyses of oil-based paints found in two photo-oil kits manufactured for use by amateurs by the J. G. Marshall Manufacturing Company were carried out to characterize and identify the components of the paints. Samples of the paints and other materials in the kits were analyzed with x-ray fluorescence, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy, Raman, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The same paints were then used to color period photographs (ca. 1930-1950) following instructions provided by the manufacturer. Those photographs were examined using the same spectrographic techniques to determine what, if any, information about the paints could be obtained directly from the hand-colored photographs, and if identification of the pigments and/or binding medium could be made with this information.

    After deciding which spectroscopic techniques provide the most useful information, period hand-colored photographs colored with unknown media will be analyzed to identify or characterize their pigments and binding media. This research is ongoing and is the basis of a yearlong Honors undergraduate senior thesis project supervised by Dr. Joseph Weber and Jae Gutierrez, in the department of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware.

    (Poster download not available)

View Posters 24-33 >>

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