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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

Conservation Corner Back

Michael Swayne, Dog Party (2003)

Michael Swayne, Dog Party (2003), painted steel, installed in Doggie Park, 13900 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC

Caring for Public Collections: A Condition Survey

by Nadine Power

Just as people need regular medical checkups to maintain good health, works of art also require periodic inspection to preserve their good condition. Public art, in particular, requires consistent observation as it is often exposed to the elements, such as rain, wind, freezing and thawing, and human interaction such as vandalism or curious hands – all factors that are likely to increase the rate of deterioration. The City of Richmond recently enlisted the help of conservators to survey their collection of 74 public sculptures. Of interest to the City was determining an overall picture of the health of their collection, identifying works that needed immediate attention, as well as developing a maintenance plan that would allow them to efficiently and periodically attend to all the works in the collection.

Installed throughout the city over the last several decades, the Richmond public art collection owns a variety of public sculpture made up of different materials. With many of the works acquired just before the 2010 Olympics, the City is anxious to keep its earlier works, like Michael Swayne’s Dog Party (2003), and newer acquisitions well preserved. Ranging from traditional materials like stainless steel and glass to the highly specialized GORE®TENARA® Architectural Fiber netting in Janet Echelman’s sculpture Water, Sky, Garden (2009) installed at the Richmond Oval, the diversity of materials provided a challenge for the City when designing an overall maintenance plan.

How does a fine art conservator deal with an assortment of materials that are not equally resilient to the factors that challenge outdoor and public preservation? Regular condition inspections are an effective way to care for public collections. A useful tool that conservators and other collections managers use to monitor changes in an artwork’s condition or the overall state of a collection are condition reports. When writing a condition report, each work must be assessed individually for any previous damage and documented with photographs and details on how the damage was sustained and how further damage could be prevented. The conservator is also likely to comment on the materials used and discuss how the intrinsic nature of those materials might relate to its longevity in its current environment.

During the conservation assessment, all of the works in the Richmond collection were evaluated for damage and their materials were reviewed. The location of each artwork’s installation was also commented on: was the work located in an isolated area and therefore susceptible to vandalism? Was it located near the ocean, therefore subjecting it to corrosive salt water? By the end of the condition survey, the City had learned the following: their relatively young collection was in overall good condition. The majority of damage had come from vandals or other accidents rather than poor construction, inappropriate choice of materials, or unsuitable installation locations. With this information in hand, the City can now develop an appropriate maintenance plan to keep the collection in a well-preserved state for generations to come.

Previously: Theatres of the World: the conservation of two murals in the Simon Fraser University Theatre, Part 2.
Next issue: Iron in Paper: Problems and Current Solutions

Janet Echelman, Water, Sky, Garden (2009)

Janet Echelman, Water, Sky, Garden (2009), (82 ft high x 300 ft wide), painted galvanized steel rings, GORE®TENARA® Architectural Fiber, painted red cedar, water fountains, at Richmond Olympic Oval


 Sat, Nov 3, 2012