3.5 Evaluation of Seismic Mitigation Measures for Art Objects

University of Southern California
The Getty Conservation Institute

M. S. Agbabian
S. F. Masri
Robert Nigbor
William S. Ginell
The J. Paul Getty Museum Conservation and Preparation Staff
Period of Activity: 6/87 to 6/89

Project Abstract
The purpose of this research was to evaluate the earthquake mitigation methods currently being used or contemplated by the staff of the J. Paul Getty Museum for the support of art objects. This evaluation was accomplished in two phases. Phase 1 consisted of a study of the earthquake response characteristics of these art objects, and it included a classification of art objects, structural and material properties, and dynamic response behavior into types of earthquake resistance parameters that can readily be analyzed or verified experimentally.

In phase 2 the following tasks were accomplished:

a.) Specific art objects were identified for detailed evaluation in accordance with the plan defined in Phase 1.

b.) Base supported, suspended, and laterally restrained support concepts were evaluated.

c.) Combining representative art objects and their supports into single computer models, dynamic analyses were performed to determine the response behavior under simulated earthquake excitations.

d.) Dynamic experiments were conducted using appropriate techniques for each type of art object and its mounts.


The results of the investigations were given in quarterly reports and in the final report which includes the data on the art objects and their mounts, the analyses and the experiments, and the interpretation of the results of the investigation.

Primary Publications
Agbabian, M. S., S. F. Masri, R. Nigbor, and W. S. Ginell, "Seismic Mitigation Concepts for Art Objects in Museums," Paper presented at the 9th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering (9WCEE), August 1988, Tokyo, Japan.

ABSTRACT-The earthquake resistance of art objects in museums earthquake depends to a large extent on the methods used for their support. This paper reports on a procedure for the evaluation of seismic mitigation concepts that introduce changes in the characteristics of the art object and/or utilize appropriate supports and lateral restraints. Combining the art object and its support into a single computer model, the response behavior is obtained under simulated earthquake excitations. The analysis considers several levels of excitation until the threshold of damage to the mount or the art object is obtained. A physical model of the analyzed system is then subjected to a dynamic experiment.

Agbabian, M. S., W. S. Ginell, S. F. Masri, and R. L. Nigbor, "Evaluation of Seismic Hazard Mitigation Methods for Use in Art Museums," 1st International Seminar on "Modern Principles in Conservation and Restoration of Urban and Rural Cultural Heritage in Seismic-Prone Regions," Skopje, Yugoslavia, October 17-22, 1988.

ABSTRACT-In this paper, progress on development of a procedure for evaluation of some of the damage mitigation concepts in use or under consideration at the J. Paul Getty Museum is discussed. Categorization of object data on the basis of type, support design, seismic response mode, and damage mitigation method will allow the development of generic models that can be treated analytically. After experimental verification, generic model behavior will be used to evaluate installed and proposed isolation and support techniques for various categories of art objects. Results of these studies will be made available to other museums and cultural heritage repositories.

Ginell, W. S., "A Pendulum-Type Base Isolation System Pendulum-Type Base Isolation System;," 1st International Seminar on "Modern Principals in Conservation and Restoration of Urban and Rural Cultural Heritage in Seismic-Prone Regions," Skopje, Yugoslavia, October 17-22, 1988.

ABSTRACT-In this paper, information on a new type of base isolation system is presented. The Friction Pendulum System (FPS) is a unique slider pendulum device that may be used to provide retrofit seismic isolation to historic buildings in seismic-prone regions. Use of the device results in small amplitude pendulum motions that are hysteretically damped by the action of friction-type materials. Some results of experimental shake table tests performed to validate predicted device performance are given.

Agbabian, M. S., S. F. Masri, and R. L. Nigbor, "Evaluation of Seismic Mitigation Measures for Art Objects," Center for Research in Earthquake and Construction Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Southern California, submitted to the Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, August 31, 1989.

ABSTRACT-Same as Project Abstract.

Agbabian, M. S., W. S. Ginell, S. F. Masri, and R. L. Nigbor, "Evaluation of Seismic Mitigation Measures for Art Objects," 4th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Palm Springs, California, May 20-24, 1990.

ABSTRACT-This research develops quantitative techniques and procedures for the evaluation of current and future earthquake damage mitigation measures for art objects. This neglected topic of earthquake engineering research was highlighted during the recent Loma Prieta Earthquake, during which significant damage was done to the collections of several art museums. Analytical and experimental techniques are combined to allow determination of fragility levels for specific art objects and to determine the effectiveness of applicable seismic protection methods.

Ginell, W. S., "Making it Quake-Proof," Museum News, May/June 1990, pp. 60-63.

ABSTRACT-Short article on the Getty Conservation Institute's collaborative seismic mitigation project with the J. Paul Getty Museum and the University of Southern California. The objective of the project was to develop a systematic procedure for evaluating earthquake damage mitigation measures in use or under study at the museum.

Agbabian, M. S., W. S. Ginell, S. Masri, and R. L. Nigbor, "Evaluation of Earthquake Damage Mitigation Methods for Museum Objects," Studies in Conservation, Vol. 36, 1991, pp. 111-120.

ABSTRACT-In this paper, procedures are discussed for the evaluation of some of the earthquake damage mitigation methods in use or under development at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Generic models for various categories of objects have been formulated and analytical techniques have been devised that allow the assessment of the susceptibility of objects to rocking, overturning, sliding, and stress failure when subjected to earthquake induced forces. Failure criteria are discussed and examples of categories of mechanical methods for reducing transmitted forces are given. Experimental verification of some of the analytical formulations has been carried out on object models using sine, swept sine, and simulated earthquake accelerogram accelerogram; inputs to laboratory-scale shake tables. The concepts and procedures described are generally applicable to other museums and cultural heritage repositories.

Ginell, W. S., "Averting Disaster," J. Paul Getty Trust Bulletin, Vol. 5, Nš 3, 1990, The J. Paul Getty Trust.

ABSTRACT-History at the Getty Seismic Adobe Project is outlined. Research in Macedonia on the protection of Byzantine churches is also described.