Museum Home Research and Conservation An In-Depth Look at Conservation Partnerships Marcus Aurelius: Conserving an Ancient Sculpture

Treatment

The treatment goal was to stabilize the sculpture in a manner that was minimally intrusive to the sculpture and its historic additions, as well as being fully and easily reversible at any point in the future. In order for this to be accomplished, the statue would have to undergo four distinct treatment phases:

Disassembly: the removal of all failed joining materials, including resins, plaster, lead, copper alloy and iron pins, in order to separate the statue into its constituent fragments and introduce a more stable assembly approach

Cleaning: the removal of dirt, grime, modern over paint, unstable or inappropriate fills, adhesive residue, and mineral stains while retaining what traces remained of the natural patina on the ancient fragments.

Reassembly and Completion: the design and implementation of a reconstruction strategy that would allow for easy disassembly at any point in the future by replacing previously unstable joining materials with inert modern materials of sufficient strength and long-term stability. Once the segments were again assembled, conservators would undertake gap-filling and in-painting using reversible materials in a manner that would visually unify the sculpture. This would be completed in such a way as to make clear, on close inspection, which parts of the assembly are ancient and which are later restorations.

Seismic Protection: Southern California is a seismically active area, requiring the development and construction of a mounting system serving to minimize the effects of earthquakes on the statue.