WAACNewsletter
Volume 15, Number 1, Jan 1993, pp.34-35

AYMHM:Articles You May Have Missed

Rosanna Zubiate-Brenner, column editor
"Dubious honorees: MIT hands out annual Ig Nobel awards," by Tovah Lazaroff, The Holliston TAB (Newton, Mass.), October 13, 1992, page 16.

An Ig Nobel award was given to Eclaireurs de France, a Protestant youth group who, in its zeal to remove graffiti, erased ancient paintings from the walls of the Meyrieres Cave near the French village of Brunquiel. The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony at MIT is held to glorify absurd but true achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, economics, and education. The MIT Museum co-sponsored the event.

E.C.W.

"Plague Threatens Museum Workers," by Monona Rossol, ACTS FACTS, Vol. 12, No. 12, December 1992.

"In February 1989, a mammalogist at the Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) received an autopsy on...woodrat[s] intended for the collection. The cause of death was Yersinia pestis which causes plague. The incident led to the development of laboratory health and safety guidelines for all personnel...This year, the Centers for Disease Control have reported 11 cases of plague in humans in the U.S. including a death in Arizona on August 26. The increased likelihood of exposure to plague and many other zoonoses (diseases which can be passed from animals to humans) should prompt all...to tighten health and safety procedures." (excerpted from ACTS FACTS)

"Polish artisans restore thousands of artworks," by Michael Lindemann (AP), in The Arizona Republic, August 30, 1992, page E6.

The PKZ Studios in Warsaw (Ateliers for the Conservation for Cultural Property), since 1951 a state-subsidized enterprise, is expected to cut three-fourths of its work force to survive in the free market. At its peak, PKZ employed 1,500 craftspeople, engineers, and art historians. "Not only did we preserve monuments, but we did the same for trades which are superfluous in modern construction," said Prof. Tadeusz Polak, PKZ director. Contracts in Poland used to be assured when the state owned all of Poland's monuments and artworks. Now, prewar owners are recovering properties, but few of them can afford sophisticated restoration. Additionally, big contracts in the former Soviet Union have dried up. PKZ workshops specialized in window work, paper crafts, embroidery, and stone work. The company has participated internationally in conservation efforts, winning about 20 percent of the contracts in the lucrative German market, as well as work in 15 other countries including Spain, Sweden and Egypt. Work abroad earned almost $12 million in 1991. More than 9,000 jobs have been eliminated recently, and the 3,000 workers remaining have invested their earnings to buy 2/3 of the company. The state owns one third.

E.C.W.

"Stone Age Art Shows Penguins at Mediterranean" by Marlise Simons, in The New York Times (fall 1992)

Cave paintings dating to 18,000 years ago have been discovered deep inside a cliff on the edge of the Mediterranean, 7.5 miles SE of Marseilles, on Cap Morgiou. Dating is estimated based on carbon dating of charcoal from the dry part of the cave. Part of the cave is now under water; at the time the cave was painted, the water level was probably 400 feet lower than it is today. Painted and incised images include seals and penguins as well as horses, bison, deer, ibex, "a feline," and human hands. Studies have been published in The Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society, and in Antiquity. Since those reports, even more paintings and "engravings" have been found.

E.C.W.

"Return and Restitution of Cultural Property," Museum, Vol. 175, no. 3, 1992. Unesco.

European works of art taken during World War II have been returned to their rightful owners. The interest in giving back these war mementos was sparked by the unwillingness of Texan heirs of a Second World War soldier to return the $3 million Quedlinburg manuscripts. Mr. Roberts, the present music librarian at UC Berkeley, recently returned eighteen manuscripts to the Austrian Consul, and was quoted as saying: "I am pleased that were giving them back...there has been such a flap over the Quedlinburg treasures. In that instance, the United States is shown in an unfavorable light. This is an example of Americans acting differently."

R.Z.B.

"Quake Alarm," by Lynn Simross, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, July 29, 1992, p. E4.

This year's 7.5 Landers earthquake has prompted a greater interest in quake-proofing in the home. This short article mentions the use of microcrystalline wax in securing ceramics and glassware to shelves. Baby-proofing products also serve to secure cabinet doors. Doug Adams of Conservation Materials Ltd., distributes Multiwax W-835, the microcrystalline wax used by many museums in one-pound blocks, and Safer-Baby a Studio City shop sells baby-proofing products, and offer an in-home service.

R.Z.B.

The CM Times, No. 5

has recently published revised guidelines for the use of Carbopol resins, originally presented in the May 1990 WAAC Newsletter ( Vol. 12, No. 2, pp 13-14). The revision is presented by Chris Stavroudis, and was done particularly for CM Times, at their request. CM Times is available from Conservation Materials, Ltd., P. O. Box 2884, Sparks, Nevada 89431; phone 702/331-0582.

R.Z.B.

"Dig Disputed," by Samuel Wolff, Archaeology, Sept/Oct 1992, Vol. 45, No. 5, p.24.

An Ultraorthodox Jewish group disrupted the excavation of an Armenian monastic complex, dating to the fifth-eighth centuries A.D., found near Jerusalem's Old City. The group believed that the site contained Jewish tombs which under religious law cannot be excavated. The group backfilled two tombs with boulders and a Greek inscription on the chapel floor was vandalized. The Authority's Site Preservation Committee has recommended that "the area be reburied to protect it from impending road construction, ...that a plaque outlining the sites history be displayed at the site, that access be provided to one or more of the crypts, and that finds such as the Armenian mosaic inscription be offered to Jerusalem's Armenian Museum."

R.Z.B.

"The Hermitage: Falling Apart." ARTnews, Nov.. 1992, Col. 91, No.9, p.53.

The Hermitage is the world's largest museum, and is housed in five 18th-century palaces. The 1,050 rooms in these buildings display only one-tenth of the museums collections. The Hermitage, prior to the breakup of the USSR, received $20 million a year from the Central Culture Ministry. Last year all of the other museums in the country, 1,300 of them, received $3.5 million for use on equipment, repairs and renovation. Ground water, and automobile exhaust fumes are threatening the Kremlin museums. Monetary assistance is needed, and the government will not be able to provide this. Assistance must come from abroad.

R.Z.B.

"Cemetery of Statues," by Giovanni Lattanzi, Archaeology, Nov/Dec 1992, Vol. 45, No. 6, p. 46.

The cargo of a ship, containing more than 1,000 pieces of Roman sculpture, dating from the fourth century B.C. to the third century A.D., has been recovered off the Italian coast near Brindisi. It is believed that the ship sank sometime between the third century A.D. and the Middle Ages. The conservation lab of the Archaeological Museum in Brindisi is presently desalinizing and restoring the bronzes. It is expected that a broader search will be made of the area with the aid of the Italian Naval Oceanographic Unit.

R.Z.B.

"The Best Countries for Selling Stolen Art," by Constance Lowenthal, ARTnews, Oct 1992, Vol. 91, No. 8, p. 158.

In countries with legal systems based on common law, good title can only be passed on by legal owners. Many civil law countries only place time limits on the recovery of stolen art, even from bad faith purchasers. The problem of art theft is one which requires a change to a uniform legal system, and until that happens the sale of stolen art will continue as long as there are buyers.

R.Z.B.

"Old Master Reveals its True Colors," by Alexandra Frean, The European, 26-29 November, p. 3.

Illustrated report on the restoration of the 67-square-meter Les Noces de Cana, by Paolo Veronese (completed in 1563). An all-woman team restored this painting over a 3-year period. One of the most dramatic visual changes is that the red coat of the Master of the Ceremonies, a foreground figure, is now green.

E.C.W.

"An Aristocrat Aids E. European Art," by Olivia Snaije, The Christian Science Monitor, December 9, 1992, page 14.

Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, only daughter of one of the world's foremost collectors, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, has launched the Arts Restoration for Cultural Heritage (ARCH) foundation. Although damage to cultural property in Croatia first caught her attention, ARCH was established to address the conservation needs of museums and churches in eastern Europe and in the former Soviet republics. At present, a primary project is the creation of mobile conservation studios that travel to places of need. Other ARCH board members include: Marilyn Perry, president of the Kress Foundation; J. Carter Brown, past director of the National Gallery in Washington; and Paolo Viti of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

E.C.W.

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