As part of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) project to investigate conservation approaches for Disney animation cels, a hands-on workshop was held in December 2017 for five participants from Southern California institutions with Disney animation cels in their collections. The purpose was to educate an initial group of participants on innovative treatments for relaying animation cel paints exhibiting delamination, flaking, or both.
Damage to cel paints can occur within storage boxes by contact with interleaving materials or other cels and by gradual changes in the composition of the plastic sheets through processes that can be mitigated by controlling the storage environment.
Research from the GCI-ARL project has revealed three distinct paint formulations in cels created between 1937 and 1985 by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Participants practiced paint relaying techniques that take into consideration the unique chemical composition and working properties of Disney cel paints. Specific treatments for cels from each time period were demonstrated.
Participants also learned practical ways of differentiating three common types of plastic sheets, techniques for removing interleaving papers and paints from cels inadvertently adhered to the paints, and methods to relay paints dislocated during storage. Instructors also demonstrated documentation techniques developed for a condition survey of ARL-owned cels. The workshop was held at the ARL in a specially constructed, environmentally controlled chamber that included a workbench equipped with lighting, cameras, and mirrors for viewing both sides of the cels during treatment.
Participants will continue to practice these techniques during the remainder of the GCI-ARL research project and contribute their findings to the study.
The Disney Animation Research Library is the world’s largest archive of animation art, housing approximately sixty-five million pieces of animation art created over more than eighty years by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The research on Disney animation cels is part of the GCI’s Preservation of Plastics project, which studies a wide range of plastics to understand how to prevent or slow degradation, estimate risks, establish suitable approaches to preservation, and design appropriate conservation treatments.