This international symposium—organized by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Getty Museum—addressed the technology, history, structure, and corrosion of ancient and historic metalwork. Approximately 180 participants heard papers delivered by prominent conservators and conservation scientists from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. The intention of the symposium was to focus on objects rather than archaeometallurgical aspects of smelting, extraction, or refining of metals, and to reflect the continued reevaluation by the profession of conservation treatments for metal objects—especially the cleaning of patinated ancient bronzes and the corrosion of outdoor bronzes. As technical sophistication increases, it has become increasingly apparent that the cleaning of ancient bronze surfaces removes evidence of association and burial context.

The variety of issues discussed included considerations in the cleaning of ancient bronze vessels; the processes involved in bronze casting, finishing, patination, and corrosion; applications of radiographic tomography to the study of metal objects; issues associated with gold foil, strip, and wire in the Iron Age of Southern Africa; the technology of Chinese bronze casting and the patination of Chinese bronze vessels; the history of restoration of the equestrian monument of Marcus Aurelius in Rome; studies of manufacturing techniques of gold objects in early African and medieval European metalworking, including the technology of medieval jewelry; an examination of bronze surfaces of sixteenth- to seventeenth-century objects from the Benin Kingdom, Nigeria; an account of architectural metalwork and the conservation of the Rookeries ornamental ironwork; the examination of marine corrosion of bronze in fittings recovered from shipwreck sites in Australia; and the technology of gilding in the 18th century.

The conference proceedings, Ancient and Historic Metals:Conservation and Scientific Research, were subsequently published by the GCI.