All abstracts for papers are presented below.
A brief exploration of problems in evaluation of previous treatments
Alissa Anderson, The Swedish National Heritage Board, Sweden
How do we know that the methods and materials used in conservation are appropriate? Evaluations of previous treatments can inform current conservation practice. This paper discusses five problems that obstruct systematic and useful evaluations: ambiguous judgement criteria, validity, reliability, documentation and infrastructure. The problems were identified through an analysis of nine evaluation cases and a literature study.
From kaleidoscopic views within conservation toward stewardship in sharing and communicating conservation decision
Ann-Cathrin Rothlind, National Historical Museums, Sweden
Decision-making in conservation-restoration is complex. The interdisciplinary nature of conservation–derived from both natural sciences and humanistic disciplines – often becomes a challenge for the field. In this paper decision-making was studied as a case-study, focusing on interactions between professional actors managing the Skokloster Castle collection of paintings, a historic house museum in Sweden, over a period of 50 years. Decision-making was interrogated from written sources using a qualitative methodology informed by and consistent with the work of MichelFoucault. First, discourse content was categorized decade vise, by experimental application of a decision-making map for conservation-restoration process, reflecting conservation knowledge. Second, the evolution of consulting conservation decisions was analyzed in relation to quantified collection condition survey data. Conservation examples were used as a touchstone to discuss breakpoint values affecting tangible and intangible characteristics of paintings on canvas, managing change, and transfer of significance into the future. The review shows the multi-variate value complexity in consulting conservation decisions. The cultural heritage field need acknowledge the intrinsic inter-disciplinary nature of conservation. For future stewardship and a sustainable conservation of paintings on canvas in historic house settings, it is imperative conservation decisions rely on quantified condition survey data on damage functions affecting object significance.
Large Scale Conservation Before Digitization: setting standards and changing roles
Lisa Edgren, The Kiruna Centre for Conservation of Cultural Property, Sweden
Johanna Fries Markiewicz, Swedish National Archives, Sweden
In 1986, the Government of Sweden decided to establish the Kiruna Centre for Conservation of Cultural Property (SFMV) to increase employment opportunities in Kiruna. The idea was that SFMV would provide conservation services to, among others, the Swedish National Archive. The geographical distance between SFMV and the National Archive is a challenge to address when standardizing workflow processes and coordinating transportations of collections.
The fundamental task of the National Archives is to keep official records available for the present and future public. In 2019 the Swedish National Archives appointed SFMV to prepare a collection of severely damaged 19th century Real Property Registers for digitization. The Senior Conservation Manager at The National Archives in UK was invited to a workshop on how to set up a large scale digitization project. Based on this workshop, a pilot project was initiated to establish preparation measures for the collection.
By mediating experiences from the pilot project, where films and pictures were used to discuss the preparation process on digital platforms, this paper aspires to contribute to the general expertise on how to set up large scale digitization projects and prepare collections for digitization.
The Stockholm Magistrate and Lower Court Protocols 1660–1684 – A smorgardsbord of conservation treatments
Lotta Möller, Lotta Möller Papperskonservator AB, Sweden
Stockholm City Archives keep a collection of civil court protocols from the late 17th century. The protocols are written in iron gall ink on high quality rag paper. The document paper is locally severely degraded by humidity and mould, with large lacunas. The level of ink corrosion is on the other hand generally relatively low.Since 2017, I and paper conservator Helen Skinner has treated some of the document. During the project, it has been found that other documents in the collection are previously treated. In the fall of 2020, I got the permission from the City Archives to review the archive and examine these previously treated documents. Six different methods were identified and studied by ocular and tactile examination. From the understanding of the conservation materials and techniques the methods were place on a timeline from 1917 to 2017.
The paper presents and discuss the six methods. The result indicates that the level of ink corrosion has no correlation with the treatment method. This, in spite that some of the treatments include the use of humidity and/or water. The study should be regarded as a first overview for deeper future research on the material.
Historical Development of Conservation and Restoration Activities at the National Museum of Slovenia
Nataša Nemeček, National Museum of Slovenia, Slovenia
Tomaž Lazar, National Museum of Slovenia, Slovenia
The tradition of conservation and restoration in the National Museum of Slovenia can be traced back to 1880 with the appointment of the first museum preparator. During the first half of the 20th century, the Slovenian conservation-restoration practice was greatly influenced byt he work of Friedrich Rathgen. A major turning point followed in 1959 with the formal establishment of the Conservation Department under the leadership of chemistry engineer Nada Sedlar. In the following year, Sedlar visited the conservation laboratories in Mainz, Munich, and Nancy. Her observations inspired the introduction of more modern materials and methods. For decades, the Conservation Department continued to struggle with under staffing and lack of suitable space and equipment. Many of these problems were addressed after Slovenia’s independence in 1991. The department was expanded considerably, allowing the staff to specialise and divide their work according to materials and provenance of artefacts (archaeological finds versus objects of cultural history). Throughout the previous six decades of its existence, the department has contributed decisively toward the development of modern conservation-restoration in Slovenia. A particularly visible affirmation of the conservation-restoration profession followed in 2019 with the exhibitionIn good hands, marking the 60th anniversary of the department.
A Complex Conservation Challenge: Consolidation of Norwegian Distemper Paint Decorations
Nina Kjølsen Jernæs, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), Norway
Anne Apalnes Ørnhøi, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), Norway
Around 30 years ago, a consolidation treatment method for distemper paint decorations using sturgeon glue was developed by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage and the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research. The method has been in use since then and remains favourable. Based on an evaluation of previous consolidation treatments, the Sturgeon-GlueProject was initiated in 2014to find out how the sturgeon-glue consolidation treatment would affect distemper paint structures.
Different analytical techniques, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immuno-fluorescence microscopy (IFM),have been undertaken to provide some answers. We have detected unspecific collagen in the paint structures, although we have been unable to find the specific animal collagen used as the binding medium. Ovalbumin from egg has been detected as an additive but only in a medieval paint structure.
By reviewing past and present consolidation treatments and performing multiple analytical techniques, we have found that problematic areas might be related to thick paint structures ,strong binders in the original paint and pigments that variously “quenched” the binder and the glue.The sturgeon glue is unevenly dispersed in the structure and is not evident between the wooden support and the paint layer. Future analytical techniques are suggested to completely understand the challenges of consolidating distemper paint.
From Values to Strong Policy Making
Nina Robbins, Helsinki University, Finland
My article examines how museological value discussion offers tools for museum professionals to engage themselves in the current discourse on sustainability. Firstly, one needs to accept the fact that museums are in the business of originality. Secondly, museums must be seen as policy makers in society. Because of these two facts, museum professionals need up-to-date tools in order to navigate within the realm of such policy making.
One way to utilize this toolbox is to join forces with all sectors of museum work. In addition, we need to look at the value processes inside our own institutions, keeping in mind that in our field, any value development cannot culminate in the span of just one museum career; it is rather something developed over time. This is seen, for example, in objects that have received “key object” status or are referred to as “iconic” in museum collections.
In my article, I introduce two cases where museum professionals have joined forces in clarifying their focus: a disposal workshop involving Eastern Finnish art museums and the museum display renewal of the Vehkalahti Regional Museum.
I will use the concepts such as Art Museum Disposal Project and Vehkalahti Identity Check in my text to describe these projects
Improving collections care documentation to support a new approach in conservation management.
The case of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Mireia Campuzano, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Spain
Ruth Bagan, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Spain
Conservation of cultural heritage has undergone a substantial shift in the last decades. Documentation related to the preservation of this heritage also made it, in parallel, highlighting the close link between these two disciplines. The change of perspective in conservation seeks to obtain a wider and more comprehensive view of the collections management, and focus its efforts on prevention. This translates into a new approach in the documentation and databases administration. At the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya this development is evident in the document processes, which have evolved from files describing briefly conservation interventions, to a wider data collection that seeks to integrate: previous studies and diagnosis, analysis, interventions and, ultimately, everything related to the historical memory of the artwork. Currently, within the context of developing the Collections Conservation Plan, we have carried out an optimization of the database conservation module in order to meet the needs of this new approach. Under the premise of making full use of the tools provided by the database MuseumPlus, we have created a range of reports to introduce key references for preventive conservation, related to artworks but also introducing information related to museum's spaces. These reports, in addition to collecting data on the condition and care of the collections, include an incident log, linked to the related risk indicators. In a near future, the goal is to cross-reference this data with essential aspects of the artworks such as vulnerability and significance, in order to obtain a comprehensive view of the preservation of the collection and to better inform decision-making.
Challenges and Opportunities in Conservation of Bagan Monuments: Reconciliation amongst Veneration, Renovation and Architecture
Tharaphy Aung, Department of Archaeology and National Museum, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Myanmar
Yamin Htay, Department of Archaeology and National Museum, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Myanmar
After 1975 earthquakes in the past (Than Tun 1996) and the most recent 2016 earthquake, surviving monuments such as temples and stupas have been traditionally maintained and repaired over centuries as a merit-making practice with a view to achieving Nibbanna, the ultimate goal of Theravada Buddhism. Since 1995, over 1000 monuments had been reconstructed on ancient mounds and exposed structures. This papers critically looks at the conservations conducted through the ages in general and at the same time, interprets the conditions that call for intervention in terms of rectification or retainment. In addition, it highlights the heritage management challenges in balancing between merit-making practices such as hti-hoisting atop stupas and safe-guarding of cultural monuments and cultural heritage in Bagan.
Past, Present and Future: Handling, Treatment, and Display Challanges for sculptures in Museum Collections
Veronika Eriksson, The National Museum, Sweden
In recent years, storage, handling and treatment of the sculpture collection in the Nationalmuseum have progressed with improved conditions, methods and materials, but there are still challenges to tackle. This article will highlight some of these progressions, but also issues related to sculptures on open display in museums and how the visitors’ behavior seems to have changed over the last few years, prompting the need for creative solutions.
The “magic” of magnetism? The real impact of using magnets in conservation; ensuring the safety of the art piece and the conservator
Zuzanna Szozda, MASnStudio, Denmark
This paper illustrates the current state of field research and raises awareness for conservators, private collectors and professionals working in museums and art studios, that all pigments, paints, gilding materials, mediums, supports and all other substances are magnetically active and any use of magnets should be always preceded by a proper analysis. Magnetic properties of artist’s items are not included in producers’ data sheets, therefore adequate examination and qualification should be conducted and widely distributed in the literature on the subject. This would allow researching further the behaviour of selected pigments, paints and any other relevant element as such and used or distributed on a given surface under the influence of strong magnetic fields.
The methodology of quantifying the mechanical force acting on a typical paint in tube caused by a magnet and the method for pigments’ qualitative magnetic assessment by the use of the same magnet are presented in this paper. The study analysed mechanical forces arising from the presence of a strong magnet on acrylic paint Prussian blue 566 in an aluminium tube. The analysis also indicates that the analytical formula typically used for magnetic force calculations is incorrect for magnetic materials characteristic for art pieces.