The Getty Conservation Institute has a lengthy history of working in the area of decorated surfaces beginning with our inaugural field project in 1986, which undertook the conservation of the wall paintings in the Tomb of Nefertari in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens.
The Collections department’s work focuses on decorative surfaces found on a wide range of artifacts and settings, from collections objects in museums or private homes to architectural elements integrated into buildings such as churches, temples, historic houses, and palaces. These complex, multilayered surfaces were created using various techniques, applied to artifacts of different scales, and later restored with a myriad of materials. As a result, conservation professionals face a wide range of challenges when treatment is needed.
Without a precise understanding of the techniques and materials used to create and restore decorative surfaces, as well as their degradation processes, treatments can result in irremediable damage. In light of this, our work comprises both research on techniques, materials, and degradation processes, as well as on specific treatment approaches, especially cleaning systems targeted to specific surfaces.