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Subject: Cleaning Lego bricks

Cleaning Lego bricks

From: Michael Hojlund Rasmussen <mhr>
Date: Monday, June 11, 2007
Amanda Pagliarino <amanda.pagliarino [at] qag__qld__gov__au> writes

>Is anyone aware of other museums that have acquired similar Eliasson
>artworks that could be contacted for advice on how they manage their
>artwork?  Does anyone have any advice on how to regularly and
>efficiently clean 2 cubic metres of Lego bricks?

At the Conservation Centre Vejle, Denmark we are not aware of any
other artworks by Elliasson of this kind.

I have consulted the LEGO Company for any information on this
problem. On the advice of the Consumer Service department it is
recommended only to hand wash the bricks in a lukewarm detergent
solution followed by spray rinsing with water and then left to dry
by air. Washing machines or tumblers should not be used because of
the risk of dimensional changes of the bricks caused by different
temperatures and tumbling.

I have tried the washing procedure described by Pagliarino on my own
collection of LEGO bricks and it was not successful (they did not
fit together afterwards). At the time the bricks were 30-35 years
old, which partly explains the fragility of the bricks.

Anyway, this information does not contribute to solving the
problem--on the contrary. So unless there are any suggestions for
mechanical washing solutions where increasing temperatures and
tumbling are eliminated, I wonder if the approach is right. Perhaps
the solution should be a logistic rather than a conservational one.

For instance the public could be asked to wear gloves when building?

Or for instance the museum should have two sets of LEGO bricks, so
that one set could be cleaned while the other set is in use?

Or perhaps the idea of letting the public take part in the building
should be limited to say once a week?

In need for more LEGO bricks the museum should consider asking the
LEGO Company for sponsoring support. In that case they should
address the main office in Denmark <charity [at] europe__lego__com>.

Michael Hojlund Rasmussen
Conservator, M.Sc.
Conservation Centre Vejle
Maribovej 10
7100 Vejle
Denmark
+45 76 62 11 56


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Received on Monday, 11 June, 2007

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