WAACNewsletter
Volume 18, Number 3 .... September 1996

Articles You May Have Missed

Susana Zubiate, Column Editor

"Preserving Barbie" by Nicholas J. Hill in Miller's Barbie Collector, Spring 1996, pp.36-37, 54,70.

This article is the first of a two part series for collectors on the preservation of Barbies. It attempts to address the effects of "heat, moisture, light, pH; toxic substances, and attacks by living things like organisms, insects, animals, children and perhaps careless or uninformed adults", as well as giving advice on treatment. "REMOVEZ-IT", a proprietary compound, is recommended for the removal of a number of stains including that of fungi, organic materials and staining from the migration of plasticizer in the vinyl. "Perk" is recommended for the cleaning of Barbie's clothing. "Cedar oil, cedar chips or soap ends" are recommended as "preferred deterrents" to moth attacks.

"Saving Beauty" by Lee Siegel in ARTnews, June 1996, p.56.

An annual list of one hundred cultural sites from around the world that are "most in need of rescue" is being made by the World Monuments Watch; a program of the World Monuments Fund. At the same time, American Express announced a five year, $5 million dollars commitment to the project. The sites are being chosen from submissions sent from seventy countries and include "the Taj Majal, Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill on Barbados, Ellis Island, and Nero's Palace in Rome". American Express will indicate the sites for funding.

"Museums in Court" Los Angeles Times , Wednesday July 24, 1996.

The St. Louis Art Museum has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against New York's Whitney Museum of American Art and its security services for a 1993 incident in which a Whitney guard drew romantic messages on a Roy Lichtenstein painting valued at more than $1.5 million. Lichtenstein's large canvas, "Curtains", was on loan to the Whitney when temporary security guard Reginald Walker, then 21, wrote with a felt-tipped marker "I love you Tushee, Lone, Buns" and drew a heart inscribed with "Reggie + Crystal 1/26/91" on the work. The St. Louis museum spent $6500 restoring the 1962 painting, but the work's value has declined substantially since the incident, said lawyer John Rasp. The Whitney declined to comment on the suit.

"Maya Blue Paint: An Ancient Nanostructured Material" by M. Josè-Yacamán, Luis Rendón, J. Arenas, Mari Carmen Serra Puche in Science, Vol. 273, 12 July 1996, pp 223-225.

A blue paint used in ancient times in Mesoamerica, Maya Blue is found in murals, pottery, and ceremonial artifacts. Until recently its origin and resistance to "diluted mineral acids, alkalis, solvents, oxidants, reducing agents, moderate heating and even biocorrosion" has been little understood. This article is based on a study of the material and a reproduction of the method thought to have been originally used to make the pigment. The result is the analysis of the material indicating that it is made of "an amorphous silicate substrate that contains inclusions of metal nanoparticles encapsulated in the substrate and oxide nanoparticles on the surface".

"Peru's Ice Maidens: Unwrapping the Secrets" by Johan Reinhard in National Geographic, V. 189, No. 6, June 1996.

Three mummies were discovered on Mount Ampato in Peru. They include a main burial site of a young woman near the peak of 20,700 feet, and two children further down at 19,200 feet. Of particular importance is the body of the young woman which is thought to have been ritually sacrificed about five hundred year ago. She is extremely well preserved due to her frozen state. According to Sonia Guillén, an expert on mummies that have been dried out by the sun, the conservation of the partly frozen mummies has been a challenge "because there are no set rules as to how to work with a frozen body with 500-year-old textiles on it." "Ideally the bodies and textiles should be kept at a higher humidity than the desiccated head." After much discussion between a group of specialists including the Iceman team from Austria, the freezer temperature is being kept between 0 -7 °F with about 80% humidity. Of particular concern has been the removal of the textiles and the working time outside of the freezer. The analysis of intact body tissue, plant offerings, well preserved Inca textiles, ceramics, and metal objects offer a wealth of information.

"Restoring Old Paintings, How to get your ancestors back into shape" by Ann Berman in Martha Stewart Living, June 1996, pp. 82-88.

A fairly decent description of the conservation treatment of a painting with photographs demonstrating the various steps. Stresses consulting conservators and includes basic care and handling recommendations.

"QVC Museum Tours offers Marriage of Art, Commerce" by Diane Haithman in the Los Angeles Times, July 23, 1996.

Move over, PBS. The newest haven for art on television is: QVC. That's right QVC, a self-described "virtual shopping mall" has moved into the fine arts arena with a new series of live TV specials titled "QVC Museum Tours."

The specials take the viewer inside prominent art museums nationwide, offering a mini-course in art appreciation and at the same time hawking such merchandise as pins, scarves, watches, ties, and tote bags related to the featured exhibition. Most recently, QVC visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Paul Cezanne exhibition with the Postimpressionist painter's great-grandson Philippe Paul Cezanne, on hand to cohost the show with QVC and museum personnel.

Among the items offered: a goldplated "jug" pin adapted from a frequent subject in Cezanne paintings ($45); a Swatch-like "apples" watch featuring Cezanne's famous fruit on the band ($36-there is also a fruit bowl necktie); and "Bathers" beach towels for $24. Some items were already available in the museum gift shop, but some new items were created especially for QVC and are now being offered in the gift shop.

While neither QVC nor the Philadelphia museum would reveal sales figures, museum spokeswoman Laura Asmann Coogan called the effort "very successful", noting that six of the 14 items available sold out. She added that the program is not only a source of revenue, but because the show originated from inside the gallery, "a lot of people who might not ordinarily see the exhibition got to see it. We are always looking for different ways to expand our audience," Coogan said. "It shows people who might not come to an art museum because it might be boring and stuffy that it is fine to come to an art museum."

The QVC tour series kicked off in March at the Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston, featuring that museum's Winslow Homer exhibition; popular items were fishing rod and creel basket pins borrowed from Homer's seafaring imagery. The museum also did well with a $160 bronze replica of a Degas dancer and a "Miss Helen" doll inspired by a John Singer Sargent painting in the museum's permanent collection, as well as "masterpiece magnets" featuring Impressionist paintings.

The series has visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Michigan and New York's Botanical Gardens, and has upcoming programs originating from New York's Metropolitan Mus. of Art and Colonial Williamsburg, Va. So far no California museums are on the 1996 schedule.

While the museum-QVC partnership caused one Philadelphia journalist to quip that "Cubist Zirconia" is the next step in the process, Dawn Griffin, public relations director at the Boston museum, said that public response to the marriage has been more positive than critical. "I think more and more museums are finding creative ways to increase their revenue-and this is one," Griffin said. "During the show one of our curators took a walk through the exhibition, and our director (Malcolm Rogers) appeared in front of the museum on our beautiful marble stairs. Our director is fairly new, and I think he was really turned on by the opportunity for national exposure."

"Scientists Find Residue of the Ultimate Vintage Wine" by Thomas Maugh in the Los Angeles Times, June 6, 1996.

A new discovery in western Iran, reported in Nature by archaeological chemist P. E. McGovern at the U. of Pennsylvania, pushes the date of the oldest known wine back to about 5400 B.C., fully 2,000 years earlier than direct evidence had previously suggested. About six years ago McGovern began looking at artifacts in a new way. Before then, most archaeologists had washed newly found potshards before examining them closely. But McGovern reasoned that the potshards could contain revealing chemical traces of their original contents. The degree of sophistication betrayed by wine residue in the clay jar indicates that oenology was a well known subject to the early Sumerians.

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