In March 2018 the GCI convened a three-day experts meeting at the Getty Center to discuss issues related to the cleaning of wooden gilded surfaces, with twelve invited participants from Australia, Brazil, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States joining GCI and Getty Museum staff. Participants represented a variety of professional backgrounds in the field of wooden gilded surfaces conservation and cleaning, as well as various international perspectives. The meeting was part of the first phase of a new GCI project on cleaning wooden gilded surfaces. Currently there is a lack of consensus and formal training in the cleaning of these highly sensitive surfaces, potentially damaged by inappropriate restoration campaigns.
At the meeting's first day, participants shared their professional backgrounds and experience, and the cleaning practices in their country. Curators from the Getty Museum joined the second day to discuss ethical considerations and the dialogue among different stakeholders involved in the decision-making regarding a treatment; this was followed by a discussion on specific methods available to clean gilded surfaces. The final day included presentations by conservation scientists and discussions on scientific methods used to study these surfaces and control the effects of cleaning systems. The meeting concluded with conversations about next steps, including strategies to answer identified training needs in the form of a course, as well as didactic materials. Participants agreed to exchange ideas and documents in the wake of the meeting. A report summarizing the meeting will be available in 2019.
The new GCI project draws on research conducted by the Institute and partners on cleaning other types of surfaces, such as acrylic painted surfaces, which, although different in nature, are also sensitive to water-based cleaning systems. Cleaning materials and strategies used successfully for these surfaces will be tested on gilded wood, with the aim of developing cleaning protocols that can be shared with the field through workshops and didactic materials.