Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation

Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation cares for the Getty Museum’s three-dimensional artworks dating from medieval to modern times. The department focuses on the long-term care of the permanent collections and has made advancements in preventive measures for highly vulnerable tapestries and silver collections as well as in the treatment of marble sculpture and Boulle marquetry. When the Museum acquired an outdoor sculpture collection as a gift from Fran and Ray Stark in 2007, the department became responsible for its conservation and maintenance, inspiring new research, including methods for evaluating stainless steel passivation, removal and application techniques of deteriorated coatings, and research into the performance of protective lacquers for outdoor bronzes.

The department specializes in advanced technical studies of the permanent collections, collaborating with the department’s curators to publish the findings in the Getty’s catalogues. Topics of exploration include non-invasive dendrochronology, identifying protein-based binding media, developing a fastener database, new methods for identifying Asian and European lacquer, and developing a protocol for dating copper alloys.

Together with Antiquities Conservation, the department’s mountmakers have long been leaders in the seismic protection of artworks. In conjunction with structural and seismic engineers, the mountmakers apply their skill, insight, and experience to develop, design, and implement seismic mounts and isolation mechanisms, all of which are effective in protecting collections in the event of earthquakes.

Search the Collection

BLOG

FEATURED PROJECTS

Seismic Mountmaking and 3-D Scanning

Caring for artwork in an area of high seismic activity is challenging and requires careful planning.

Learn more about how the department mitigates risk to collection objects through the creation of seismic mounting systems

 

Outdoor Sculpture Coatings Research

The outdoor sculpture at the Getty is constantly exposed to the harsh Southern California sun and heat.

Learn more about how the department’s research into wax and acrylic coatings protects these vulnerable works of art

 

X-Ray Fluorescence of Heritage Copper Alloys

Energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) spectroscopy is a method of scientific analysis that can provide information about the elemental composition of copper alloy artifacts.

Learn more about how the department has collaborated with colleagues to improve methods of generating robust quantitative ED-XRF results

 

ONGOING TECHNICAL RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • CAST:ING - Copper Alloy Sculpture Techniques and history: International iNterdisciplinary Group (co-founders)
  • Method development for reproducible and collaborative quantitative XRF of historic copper alloys
  • The use of carbon dioxide blasting for coating and corrosion removal on outdoor sculpture
  • The use of 3-D scanning as a tool for seismic mounting for the protection of sculpture on display
  • Appropriate use of luminescence dating for European sculpture
  • MOXI – MOlecular Xylem Identification; project for wood identification based on chemical analysis (GCI collaboration)
  • The use of voltammetry for the study of rust removers for outdoor stainless steel and tarnish removal from gilt silver
  • The use of anoxic enclosures for the eradication of museum pests (GCI collaboration)
  • Use of digital x-radiography for dendrochronology (wood dating)
  • Microfadometry of tapestries (GCI collaboration)
  • Evaluation of different fill materials for bulking B-72 for use in white marble loss compensation
  • Development of certified reference materials for the standardization of quantitative x-ray fluorescence analysis of heritage copper alloy
  • Practical application of dendrochronology to furniture
  • RAdICAL - Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquers (GCI collaboration)
  • Seismic mounting techniques for three dimensional objects
  • Immunofluorescence Microscopy (IFM) and Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) as complementary techniques for protein identification in artists' materials in collaboration with USC (GCI collaboration)

2020 MOUNTMAKING FORUM

Graphic for the virtual International Mountmakers Forum in October 2020.

The 7th International Mountmakers Forum (IMF) was held virtually in October 2020, rather than at the Getty, due to COVID-19. All of the presentations will be available online.

We look forward to the fall of 2022 when the Getty Museum will host the 8th International Mountmakers Forum! The forum supports the mountmaking community and is committed to fostering communication, promoting best practices, and disseminating current information regarding materials, tools, techniques, and solutions for object storage and display.

View the presentations and learn more

VIDEOS

This video captures the conservation and technical examination of Barbara Hepworth's Figure for Landscape" (1960) and describes the fabrication techniques used by the artist including the creative process, bronze casting, alloy composition, and surface patination. Despite regular maintenance, the outdoor bronze required treatment due to its relentless exposure to the outdoor environment, which involved removing and replacing old and failing coatings for its long-term preservation.

Watch more Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation videos

PUBLICATIONS

The following publications highlight recent and long-term research projects. A full department bibliography can be found at the link below.

View a full bibliography of publications (PDF, 426 KB)

CURRENTFUTURE EXHIBITIONS

{{event.title.$t}}
{{event.title.$t}}
{{event.eventFullDateLocationString.$t}}

Modal Image Modal Image

 

CONSERVATION STAFF

Jane Bassett

Senior Conservator

Bio +
Madeline Corona

Assistant Conservator

Bio +
BJ Farrar

Senior Mountmaker

Bio +
Arlen Heginbotham

Conservator

Bio +
Mark Mitton

Senior Mountmaker

Bio +
Julie Wolfe

Conservator

Bio +
Jane Bassett

Senior Conservator

Bio +
Madeline Corona

Assistant Conservator

Bio +
BJ Farrar

Senior Mountmaker

Bio +
Arlen Heginbotham

Conservator

Bio +
Mark Mitton

Senior Mountmaker

Bio +
Julie Wolfe

Conservator

Bio +

FIND A CONSERVATOR

The American Institute for Conservation’s Find A Conservator tool can be used to find a professional conservator in your area to answer questions about the care and treatment of family heirlooms or works of art in your personal collection.

 

CONTACT

dasc@getty.edu