The Getty Conservation Institute and the West African Republic of Benin's Department of Cultural Patrimony worked together during the mid-1990s to conserve fifty seriously damaged bas-relief panels that once adorned the Salle des Bijoux (Hall of Jewels) in the Historic Museum at the Royal Palaces of Abomey, a World Heritage Site. The bas-reliefs are thought to be the oldest surviving elements of the Royal Palaces, a group of earthen structures built by the Fon people between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries.

This conservation project systematically documented and preserved the polychrome earthen panels, each of which is about three feet square, weighs approximately 500 pounds, and depicts battle scenes and allegorical symbols of the power of the kings of Dahomey. The project also provided local Benin staff with training in conservation, photo documentation, and long-term care of the bas-reliefs.


Royal Bas-Reliefs of Abomey Project Records
Administrative records, project field materials, project reports, and conference-, publication-, and exhibition-related materials all concerning the GCI's project for the conservation of the bas-reliefs of the Royal Palaces of Abomey. Project records date from 1994 to 2000 and supplemental reference materials date from 1845 to the 1990s.

Project Video

Royal Bas-Reliefs of Abomey



Related articles in Conservation Perspectives, The GCI Newsletter

History Told on Walls (Spring 1996)
Living Traditions: A Conversation with Rachida de Souza (Spring 1996)
The Bas-Reliefs of the Royal Palaces of Abomey (Fall 1995)
The Royal Palaces of Abomey (Spring 1994)

Related Scientific Research Abstracts

2.3 Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers and Certain Water-Soluble Synthetic Polymers as Coatings for Conservation Application
2.6 The Role of Acrylic Polymers in Acrylic/Alkoxysilane Stone Consolidants and a Pilot Study on the Feasibility of Long-Chain Alkyl-Trialkoxysilanes and Mixed Alkoxytrialkoxysilanes as Stone Consolidants
2.8 Alkali-Soluble Acrylics in Architectural Conservation: Future Research Directions
2.12 Basic Research on the Chemistry and Interaction of Aliphatic Isocyanates with Adobe, Stone, and Terracotta
3.1 Assessment of the Biodeterioration Susceptibility of Stone Consolidants
3.2 Evaluation In Situ of the State of Deterioration of Monumental Stones by Non-Destructive Sonic Techniques
3.3 Control of Coarse Particle Intrusion into Museums and Archaeological Sites
3.4 Adobe Preservation-Fort Selden Adobe Test Wall Project
3.6 Development and Testing of Modular Lightweight Shelters for Archaeological Sites
3.7 The Use of Epoxy Resins for Stone Consolidation
3.8 Study for Seismic Strengthening, Conservation, and Restoration of Churches Dating from the Byzantine Period (Ninth to Fourteenth Century) in Macedonia
3.9 Getty Seismic Strengthening of Adobe Project (GSAP)


Related Getty Publications

Passé, présent et futur des palais et sites royaux d'Abomey:conférence internationale/organisée par le Getty Conservation Institute, l'ICCROM et le Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication du Bénin, 22–26 septembre 1997; actes de la conférence

Palace Sculptures of Abomey

Getty Research Library
For further information on this subject, explore Getty Research Library materials in Primo Search.

Related Non-Getty Publications/Sites

Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin (UNESCO)