CONSERVING MODERN PAINTS
In May 2016 Phase I of the collaborative GCI project to conserve the decorated architectural surfaces in the tablinum of the Casa del Bicentenario at Herculaneum was completed. This work included stabilizing the wall paintings—injection grouting detached plaster, consolidating powdering pigment, and re-adhering flaking paint—as well as removing cement fills applied in previous interventions, which were damaging the surrounding original Roman plaster.
Along with the wall paintings stabilization, the first phase of environmental monitoring was completed and data were synthesized on the environment in, on, and around the wall paintings in the interior and exterior of the room. Diagnostic investigations have provided interesting and pertinent results related to the original painting and plastering techniques, deterioration products, and materials used in recent interventions. A condition survey in graphic, photographic, and written form was also undertaken.
Information from the project components is being compiled and analyzed to better understand the original execution technique of these exquisite wall paintings, the deterioration agents and mechanisms, and the previous interventions, including the excavation and restoration of the room in the early twentieth century. The aim is to develop passive measures and remedial treatments based on a methodological approach to conservation that can be applied to sites exhibiting similar issues.
Following structural stabilization of the Casa del Bicentenario by the Soprintendenza Pompeii in collaboration with the Herculaneum Conservation Project, the GCI project team will complete conservation treatment and implement passive measures to mitigate fluctuations of temperature, humidity, and solar radiation on the wall paintings. As a final component of the project, the mosaic pavement will be conserved.