Conservation

Are you dusting the art? Common questions about our dusting routine

Even in a museum environment, objects can become dusty and it is the responsibility of the objects conservation department to dust each artwork. We sometimes dust artworks when visitors are in the galleries and we have noticed that many people are curious about what we are doing.  Here is a brief selection of the most common questions about dusting artworks and our responses:

Dusting the suspended Ruth Asawa sculptures.

Assistant Conservator Alisa Eagleston dusting the suspended Ruth Asawa sculptures.

Man Observing: Installation of an 8.8′ tall sculpture

Viola Frey’s monumental sculpture, Man Observing Series II, is back from its travels!  This is a larger than life sized sculpture made of 13 heavy sections of glazed earthenware ceramics.  Teamwork by staff at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco returned the sculpture to its original home in the Saxe Gallery at the de Young.

Without Visible Means of Support

Installation of Japanese Books in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books

Go behind the scenes at the Legion of Honor as paper conservators prepare and install 37 rare Japanese books for the exhibition Aspects of Mount Fuji in Japanese Illustrated Books from the Arthur Tress Collection.

Hokusai, Untitled (Fuji Seen from Above the Waves), [detail] from the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji, 1835. Collection of Arthur Tress.
 

   

Utagawa Hiroshige, Fuji seen through cherry trees, in the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji (Fujimi Hyakuzu), 1859. Collection of Arthur Tress.
 

Not Your Average Picture: Installation of a 17-foot Photograph

Shi Guorui photograph

The Chinese artist Shi Guorui produced this photograph of the Donner Pass by creating a pinhole camera obscura. The photographic method is just like the oatmeal container pinhole camera you might have made in grade school, but on a much larger scale. The artist put a single small hole in the side of an otherwise light-sealed semi-trailer truck.  The light rays passed through this small hole forming an inverted image on a long, curved sheet of sensitized photographic paper.  We were told that the artist meditated during the hours-long exposure time.

At 4 feet 2 inches x 17 feet 2 inches, Donner Pass is one of the largest photographs in the Museums’ collection. Due to its unique size, installation required much advanced planning to come up with a method of hanging that was not only safe for the photograph, but also met the visions of the artist and curators. As the artist preferred the immediacy of the uncovered photograph placed directly on the wall, a tailored system of hinging materials and frame installation methods was devised by the paper conservation laboratory to safely meet this vision.  

After much preparation, the day of installation had arrived.  

A Day at the FAMSF Photo Studio

Amazing art comes through the photo studio on a regular basis.
 
We tend to save Mondays (when we’re closed to the public) to photograph artworks that are normally installed in the galleries. This way we can take the objects out of the galleries and into the photo studio without impacting the public.
 
Recently we shot two recent acquisitions from the AOA department. The images will appear in the next edition of the museums' Fine Arts magazine.
 

Bouquets to Art: Annual invasion of the flowers

The Fine Arts Museums’ annual floral extravaganza, Bouquets to Art, takes place in March every year. It’s FAMSF’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s extremely popular with museumgoers. It can be especially challenging to the FAMSF conservation staff, however, given the potential to admit insects and pests to the museum. This photo essay chronicles the conservation staff (a.k.a. The Conservation Patrol) at Bouquets to Art 2009.

Bouquet in front of Stela with Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw

Bouquet in front of Stela with Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw.

 

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