Home | Blog | Category | Blog Category: Paper conservation

Blog Category: Paper conservation

Preserving a Giant: Treatment of a 19th-Century Photograph

Grizzly Giant with Troop F in Mariposa Big Tree Grove, California after treatment

Howard Clinton Tibbitts, Grizzly Giant with Troop F in Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, 1899. Gelatin silver print, 39 3/8 x 29 7/16 in. Gift of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company

Anisha Gupta, Graduate Intern in Paper Conservation

Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, now open at the Legion of Honor, includes a spectacularly large photograph from the Museums’ collection, taken by Howard Clinton Tibbitts (1863–1937). Tibbitts was a San Francisco–based photographer who documented the American West for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s magazine Sunset, still published today. This photograph from 1899 depicts members of the U.S. Cavalry’s Troop F, who were charged with the protection of Yosemite from 1883 until 1916.

July 21, 2016

Decoding paper: Secrets of a Renaissance Print

Works on paper often have a long history and hide many clues that tell their story. Take a closer look and the artwork might reveal some of its secrets.

In the first in a series focusing on the hidden world of works on paper, FAMSF paper conservators take a look at Ugo da Carpi’s The Surprise, on view until October 5 in The Poetry of Parmigianino's "Schiava Turca" at the Legion of Honor.

July 24, 2014

Cracking the Conservation of a Curious Contemporary Construction

In 2004 artist Matthew Picton laid a sheet of plastic over the cracks in the asphalt of a playground. He traced the cracks and painted them with black enamel paint. Then he carefully cut and burned away the plastic surrounding the cracks. What was left was a giant spidery web.

A conservator installing the web-like construction by Mattew Picton

August 6, 2013

A Trompe-l'oeil Traveler

One of the most exciting aspects of working in paper conservation at the Legion of Honor is the variety of objects encountered on a daily basis. When working on a 17th-century print, for example, conservation intern Laura Neufeld faced many traditional paper conservation challenges. Pier Gustafson’s Father’s Suitcase, on the other hand, is a one-of-a kind artwork that required unique treatment solutions.

May 10, 2013

A Devil in the Details

The special exhibition Rembrandt’s Century, currently on view alongside Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, is striking both in its breadth and for the fact that the works on view all come from the Fine Arts Museums’ permanent collections. Preparations for this exhibition were lengthy, with some works requiring restoration treatments.

February 12, 2013

Marcel Duchamp’s World in a Box: Fixing a Famous Valise

Museum visitors currently have the opportunity to look inside a rare treasure normally kept locked in dark storage. Marcel Duchamp: The Book and the Box, currently on view in the Logan Gallery at the Legion of Honor, features Duchamp’s iconic artwork, Boîte en Valise, which was made in the late 1930s.

Victoria and the box

July 21, 2012

Mark Garrett Will Work for Art!

Will Work for Art introduces you to the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. Today, we visit the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts where we meet Mark Garrett, a senior museum technician. Originally from Tennessee, Mark has been with the Museums for 23 years!

Mark Garrett

June 5, 2012

Mystery Glass Negatives from Land's End

Before there were digital image files and even before there was film, photographers captured images on glass plate negatives. In the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco there are over seventy of these glass plate negatives depicting scenes of Land’s End and old San Francisco. Discovered in the basement of the old de Young, these century-old negatives were in desperate need of cleaning and re-housing. When the negatives came into the paper conservation lab at the Legion of Honor for proper care, the labor intensive project proved a perfect opportunity for pre-program conservation student Jennifer Martinez.

Foundation of Cliff House

Foundation of Cliff House, c. 1895

May 10, 2012

Preserving Images of the 1906 Earthquake

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is home to a unique collection of 167 film negatives taken by photographer Arnold Genthe chronicling the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires. The negatives were acquired by the Legion of Honor in 1943.

Genthe 1

Arnold Genthe (photographer), American, 1869–1942
Untitled (Earthslip on San Francisco's Union Street), 1906
Cellulose nitrate negative
Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.6.1

On the day of the earthquake Genthe, an established photographer best known for his society portraits and views of old Chinatown, took to the streets of San Francisco equipped with a handheld Kodak camera and pockets full of roll film.

The film Genthe used was composed of a gelatin silver emulsion on a thin plastic support of cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate film was introduced commercially at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the mid-twentieth century. Lightweight, transparent and flexible, cellulose nitrate film freed photographers from the inconveniences of its predecessors, paper and glass plate negatives.

May 13, 2011