Friday, May 14, 2010
Objects Morning Session, 8:30am
The Restoration, Treatment, Scientific Examination, and Re-treatment of an Egyptian Limestone Relief from the Tomb of Ka-Aper
Presented by Kathleen M. Garland, Senior Conservator, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Right off the bat, Ms. Garland began her talk by admitting to occasionally feeling a need to be validated in treatment decisions by conservation science. I appreciated this as I think a lot of us feel this way from time to time.
After hearing a review of the history of piece, we learned that the relief was not in great shape when it was acquired. The surface of the stone was lifting off of the substrate, which made removing it from the wall difficult. Consolidation tests were performed in 1992 and it was found that methylcellulose and Kucel G darkened the stone the least, but they were not strong enough. In the end, it was consolidated with Butvar B98, 2% in ethanol/toluene.
After removal, it sat in storage for approximately 15 years due to a lack funding for research and treatment. Then the Mellon Foundation provided funding for research and consultations which allowed for comparison of the relief to other examples from the same tomb, such a piece in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Conservation scientists were also consulted and a variety of analysis undertaken to better understand what was happening at the surface of the stone and what treatments were previously done. Additionally, Egyptologists were also consulted for their expertise and knowledge.
The conclusion of the talk was that undocumented pieces such as this must rely heavily on advice from others in a variety of specialties. This is a theme that I have certainly noticed in a number of talks during this conference and one that undoubtedly cannot be overemphasized.