WAACNewsletter
Volume 14, Number 1, Jan. 1992, pp.3-5

WAAC Annual Meeting: Presentation Summaries

Elizabeth C. Welsh, editor

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.

1001 Mounts: The Moving Story
Jack Mackey, Preparator
Seattle Art Museum
Volunteer Park
Seattle, WA 98112

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.

A Mexican Governor's Legacy; A Conservator's Puzzle
Jane Klinger Freeman
N'l. Archives, Pacific Sierra Region
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno, CA 94066

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.)

What's in a Brush?
Zora Sweet Pinney
4496 Emerald Street
Torrance, CA 90503

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.

Literature Sources for Conservation Research
Mitchell Hearns Bishop
Research Assistant, Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts
Getty Conservation Institute
4503 Glencoe Avenue
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

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.

Anatomy of a Frame Shop
Don Francis, Conservation Framing
1316-1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

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.

Conservation in the Dead Zoo:
The Art of Taxidermy and Diorama Installation
David A. Rasch
Division of Conservation,
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

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.)

Storage and Display Mounts for Taxidermy and Mammal Specimens
Tamsen Fuller
Objects Conservation
325 S.E. Alexander Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97333

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.)

Cultural History Collection Care:
Challenges to the Established Order
Elizabeth C. Welsh (panel organizer)
1213 W. San Miguel Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013

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.

Seattle's Outdoor Sculpture: Contracting for Conservation
Diane Shamash
Seattle Arts Commission
305 Harrison, Room 204
Seattle, WA 98109

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.)

Some Thoughts on Rodin's Thinker
Jonathan Taggart
Taggart Objects Conservation
607 Pacific Way, P. O. 2309
Gearhart, Oregon 97138

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.

Art In a Negative Environment: The Conservation and Maintenance
of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco International Airport.
James Bernstein
4353 24th Street
San Francisco, California 94114
and
Therese O'Gorman
Assistant Cons., Oakland Museum
Oakland, California

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)

"Preserving the Past"--Interactive Exhibits of the Activities in
the Antiquities Conservation Department of the J.Paul Getty
Museum
Susan Lansing Maish
J. Paul Getty Museum, Antiquities Cons.
P. 0. Box 2112
Santa Monica, CA 90406

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.)

A Conservation Treatment for an 18th Century Chandelier
Kathy Klein
J. Paul Getty Museum
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

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.)

Skin Protection: A Promising New Product
Gary Wade Alden
Environmental Protection Int'l.
7818 Camino Raposa
San Diego, CA 92122

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.

The Moisture Buffering Capability of Solander Boxes
Vinod Daniel
Shin Maekawa
The Getty Conservation Institute
4503 Glencoe Avenue
Marina de Rey, CA 90292

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.

Impermeable Barrier Materials; or, Those Wild and Wacky Foil Laminates & What They Can Do
John W. Burke
The Oakland Museum
1000 Oak Street
Oakland, CA 94607

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.

Examination of Oxalate Crusts on Weathered Stone Surfaces
Herant P. Khanjian
Getty Conservation Institute
4503 Glencoe Avenue
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

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.)

Treatment of Orazio Gentileschi's "Mother and Child"--A Victim of
Revolution
Elisabeth Mention
J. Paul Getty Museum
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

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.)

Transfer of Paintings from Copper-The Benefits and Deficiencies
of a Scientific Approach
Duane R. Chartier
ConservArt Associates
826 N. Sweetzer Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069

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.

Update: Textile and Costume Conservation
Catherine C. McLean, Cons. of Textiles
Conservation Center, LACMA
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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.)

Report on the Fulbright Travel Grant Program In Central America
Nancy Odegaard
Arizona State Museum
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721

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.)

Frustrations at the Cutting Edge
Linda A. Strauss
Assoc. Conservator, Dec. Arts and Sculp.
The J. Paul Getty Museum
P. 0. Box 2112
Santa Monica, CA 90406

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.

Update on Installation and Seismic Stabilization of Six Over-Lifesize Chinese Sculptures in the New Seattle Art Museum
Patricia Leavengood
215 Second Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104

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.

Pest Control with Nitrogen Gas
James R. Druzik
Getty Conservation Institute
450 Glencoe Avenue
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
and
Michael K Rust and
Janice M. Kennedy
Department of Entomology
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA

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.

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