Light – Conserve, Preserve, Observe Part 2

As promised, here is some more information about the role light plays in conservation, courtesy of Winterthur’s Lighting Specialist Mack Truax.

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Conserve, Preserve, Observe – Winterthur Week 2

I’m about to wrap up my second week interning with the Curatorial Department at Winterthur Museum, Gardens, and Library. The days have been incredibly varied – one day I uploaded multimedia files to Winterthur’s database so anyone can visually see print works in Winterthur’s collection, another day I helped the Registration Department transport boxes of recently fumigated textiles to their storage space during cataloguing and photographing, and yesterday I visited the “Gray Building” with Josh, the Furniture Curator, to record accession numbers for potential pieces to go on display in the estate in time for an upcoming furniture conference later this year. Some days I spent hours online, and others I was barely at my desk. There is some consistency in long term cataloguing projects, but also variation in unexpected duties and tasks that require venturing to new parts of the property.

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What Have We Learned?

I have had an amazing time this summer working in my research lab and gaining experience both in the technical aspects of conducting research and data analysis as well as the way a research lab is run and how projects are pursued. At the end of the research period the time came to ask the age old question, what did we learn? What sort of conclusions can be drawn from the data we gathered? As a refresher, my research was focused on making a comparison of two solvent cleaning techniques on samples of 10 year old oil paint films. One method uses straight solvent applied to the paint via a cotton swab while the other method uses a gelled form of the solvent applied to the paint via a cotton tissue. The hypothesis was that the gel-solvent method would be less invasive and more efficient than the straight solvent method.  Based on the the trends we saw once the data had been analyzed, I am pleased that the results seem to be congruent with what we expected to see, though more thorough research with more solvents and perhaps more accurate samples is needed to state definitively whether the gelled-solvent method is less invasive but as effective as the straight solvent method.

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Coming Around the Final Turn

Greetings once more from the ISC. Things in the lab have been moving forward, if rather slowly in some cases. We have been facing the inevitable issue of bottle-necking in terms of making use of the two magnets we have in our lab, for there are multiple projects which need to collect data. On top of that, we have recently discovered that the lift which allows us the vary the depths at which we are measuring during a single experiment has not been moving in accordance to the distances it is given in the software, which has slowed down all data collection as we work to correct or at ┬áleast better understand the issue. Nonetheless work progresses on the paint cleaning front. The samples which were assigned the isopropanol treatments have continued to be treated with the swab and gel techniques respectively. The double peak phenomenon exhibited by the sample which is swabbed with isopropanol could potentially be a result of isopropanol’s rapid evaporation rate, causing a peak to be observed where paint had swelled as normal, and another peak due to some isopropanol which has been trapped in the sample. The samples will continue to be treated on a regular basis and perhaps the next measurement will bring even more insight about the two peaks exhibited by the plain isopropanol.

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