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Methods and considerations in the conservation of artwork

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Gillian Crothers

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Methods and considerations in the conservation of artwork

What is conservation?
Methods and Considerations in
the Conservation of Artwork

There are different requirements and levels of conservation practice according to materials or art forms - in particular, where art forms are light-sensitive, including fashion and textiles and works on paper, photography and prints and drawings.
The Role of the Conservator
The conservator will examine a part of the artwork and do any restoration which needs to be done (eg - take off varnish, apply new varnish etc.
Conservators make the judgement about how long the works of art are allowed to be displayed for (depending on the fragility of the works
The conservators will consider the visual nature of the space - books might need to go in perspex boxes etc.
When purchasing artworks the NGV has to consider the condition of the artworks because conserving and restoring artworks can take time and money.
Lighting of Artworks
Conservation of artworks refers to how artworks are managed in terms of their;

Do not confuse the terms

refers to the visable evidence (That is to hanging, framing, installation and lighting of artwork)
may involve some presentation aspects, but it refers to the control of the environment and conditions of a use of work.
The role of the conservator may include:
*Providing specialist care and conservation of an art form in a specialist field
* Undertaking routine and complex treatments
*Initiating, implementing and coordinating preventative conservation
* Managing condition and display related issues
* Inititating and and undertaking research into methods and materials for specialist art forms and techniques to improve preventative care
* Monitoring display environments
*Advising and liasing with other staff to provide authoritative advice on handling, display and packing for transport
* Conducting technical examinations and preparing condition reports.
Conservation of Collections
This term refers to the examination, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage using any methods that prove effective in keeping that property in as close to its original condition as possible, for as long as possible.
Commercial galleries have different considerations in relation to conservation practice from larger cultural organisations. For example, commercial galleries anticipate and rely on a large turnover of stock and exhibitions and may not make any considerations in terms of specialist lighting, temperature or storage requirements.
On the other hand, Public galleries and large regional galleries will have specialist considerations. There is a responsibility to protect the value of the collection, to manage deterioration and to add value to the collection through research and examination, analysis and treatment of existing works.
The NGV applies national standards in respect to conservation. The NGV has a commitment to present the collection in its best possible condition and appearence and employs specialist conservators in selected fields.
Some of those fields include
and works on paper
Considerations may include whether the object is light sensitive or whether the object needs to be stabilised for display. Considerations may be given and assessed in the movement of an object as well as the presentation.
Most artworks are susceptible to deteriorations from
and vibration.
Heat generally raises humidity, while cold lowers it. It is important to control temperature, as it will impact on relative humidity (RH).
Most galleries keep the exhibition spaces at human comfort and the recommended temperature of 20 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in winter, and 24 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in summer.
It is necessary to avoid wild swings of humidity. For example, organic artworks - artworks made with paper and woods - will be more affected by high humidity.
Relative humidity will generally be kept at 50 per cent plus or minus 5 per cent.
Storage areas in galleries will vary and some galleries will not have storage areas. They may have stockrooms and will take precautions and care in the storage and handling of artworks.
They may take care in the transportation and storage of works but not to the extent of larger museums.
Art museum collections may have an offsite storage location, registration areas
and also selected study rooms for light sensitive materials.
Storage in these areas are specifically constructed and designed to provide optimal temperature
and RH levels and optiaml air purity. Works are kept in the dark as much as possible (in solander boxes) Areas are monitored to ensure any potential problems are identified and remedied as quickly as possible.
Other considerations - artists intentions.
There may be other considerations in the storage and conservation of artworks - for example and artist may wish to challenge the idea that an artowrk should last forever,
Sometimes an artist may create an artwork that is not designed to last or which is made of materials which is not designed to last.
For example, The artist Anslem Kiefer (born in 1945) used organic materials in his work Bose Blumen (evil flowers) which he knew would disintergrate over time, to reveal architecture underneath.This work was a comment a humans and nature.
Performance art and environmental art are interesting art forms which often explore the idea of permanency.
Other contemporary artworks can often be deconstructed for transit and reconstructed in situ in an exhibition space. Kerrie Polines' piece Red Matter Wall Drawings are painted onto walls via an instruction manual. This raises questions of authenticity. Which is the real work of art? The instruction manual or the wall painting? Does it really matter?
* Materials

* Lighting

* Temperature

* Storage and

* Presentation
NGV and Conservation
Stone and metal are unaffected by light but dyes and paints both fade in artificial (fluroescent)and sunlight - this is irreversable.
Ultraviolet light (UV) is particularly damaging. Works on paper such as watercolours, prints, drawings and photographs are vulnerable.
To increase the longevity of these artworks, exhibition and presntation of these is restricted. Works are often rested in a ratio of 1:3 which means that if they are on display for one or more month they will be rested for 3 times that amount; hence the importance of controlled conditions in storage.
Temperature and relative
* What is conservation?
* What considerstions do galleries have to make in terms of conservation?
* What is the role of the conservator?
* What materials are likely to be involved in conservation?
* Discuss the importance of correct lighting in gallery situations
* Discuss the importance of temperature
* Discuss the importance of humidity
* Discuss the importance of storage and artists intentions
Full transcript