CAN THE COMPLEX BE MADE SIMPLE? INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT CONSERVATION THROUGH MUSEUM EXHIBITS
JERRY C. PODANY, & SUSAN LANSING MAISH
ABSTRACT—The growing public interest in the processes and principles of conservation has led to the encouragement of numerous educational efforts on the part of conservators, institutions, and professional conservation organizations such as the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). In response to this interest and encouragement, the J. Paul Getty Museum mounted an interactive exhibition entitled Preserving the Past. This exhibition was a collaborative effort of the Antiquities Conservation, Education and Academic Affairs, and Antiquities Curatorial departments. In an attempt to introduce the visiting public to conservation principles, activities, and plans, Preserving the Past focused on conservation efforts applied to the museum's collection of ancient objects.The exhibition was divided into sections addressing conservation ethics and principles; scientific examination and analysis; treatment; and environmental control (including working models of seismic isolation mechanisms). The gallery was staffed continually by specially trained museum education staff and docents, called facilitators, who offered visitors access to more detailed written information, hands-on activities, and guidance through the exhibit. Approximately 12,000 people visited the exhibition during the seven months it was on view.This paper describes the efforts to establish guiding principles, and realistic and accessible approaches to presenting complex subjects such as conservation to the museum visitor whose prior knowledge, interest, and time may be limited. Exhibition planning, the philosophical precepts for the exhibition, the physical installation and design, and the evaluation of the final gallery format and its impact on the visitors are discussed.
2. EXHIBIT INTRODUCTION
3. SCIENTIFIC EXAMINATION
6. SURVEY RESULTS
a: Materials , Author Information