Overview

Works of art, both two- and three-dimensional, made with modern acrylic paints can present difficult technical problems for conservators if a cleaning treatment is necessary. Because of the physical properties and composition of acrylic paints, dirt or grime can become tenaciously adhered to the surface. Most artists' acrylic paints, even when dried and aged, can be very sensitive to aqueous cleaning solutions, while non-polar organic solvents are often lacking in cleaning efficacy. In addition, there are a number of areas of uncertainty in the field related to the degree and significance of the effect of cleaning treatments on the original paint components.
Within the conservation field, scientific research and collective practical wisdom related to the cleaning of acrylic painted surfaces have yet to properly coalesce into coherent methodologies for problem diagnosis and problem solving. To address this situation, the GCI is undertaking an ongoing series of workshops focusing on the cleaning of acrylic painted surfaces. These workshops integrate emerging scientific research (much of which springs from the GCI's Modern Paints project and from research leaders such as Tate, the Dow Chemical Company and the University of Delaware) with the latest perspectives on cleaning technology within art conservation. Through these activities the GCI hopes to stimulate the development of problem-solving frameworks, facilitate a dialogue on the application and evaluation of new treatments, and guide future research on acrylic painted surfaces.
The inaugural event of the Research Into Practice Initiative was the 2009 colloquium, Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces: Research into Practice.

Subsequent workshops on this topic were held at:

Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011
Tate Britain, London, 2012

Additional CAPS workshops are planned for the future to meet the demand of the field.