Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Friday, April 29, 2011

Conservation Treatment of the Ernst Herzfeld Drawings

In honor of National Preservation Week and MayDay!, the Freer|Sackler Archives is highlighting conservation work from 2009, made possible by the Leon Levy foundation.  After the completion of a thorough survey to document the conservation needs within the Ernst Herzfeld papers, the Archives hired a conservator to select a percentage of damaged drawings and provide treatment.  

Below is an example of a drawing in its damaged state.  Alongside the image is text to help describe the conditions and treatment of the drawing as taken from Ms. Christina Finlayson’s report.

The object is in poor condition. It suffers from overall discoloration, planar distortions and creasing, tears, losses, and severe adhesive staining.
The blue watercolor component appears to be in stable condition. There are some minor instances of media loss which correspond to areas where the paper support has been creased, scratched, or torn.  

*As taken from the Condition Report and Treatment Proposal created by Christina Finlayson, June 24th 2009.

1.    Written and photographic documentation of the object was conducted before and after treatment.
2.    The water color was surface cleaned with particles of vinyl eraser.
3.    The water color media was tested for sensitivity to acetone, and was found to be stable.
4.    The backing support was removed by carefully tearing away sections. A small piece with an ink inscription was kept and will be retained with the drawing.
5.    Excess adhesive residue was reduced as possible by rolling acetone soaked swabs over the affected areas. Heavier applications of adhesive were softened with acetone solvent chambers placed locally as necessary. The adhesive was then scraped off under magnification with a scalpel blade. A minor amount of residual adhesive remains on the reverse of the watercolor.
6.    The watercolor was humidified in a cold vapor chamber to relax the distortions.
7.    The tears were mended with heat-set tissue[1].
8.    The water color was re- humidified in a cold vapor chamber, and then dried between sections of blotters under glass and weight.

*As taken from the Treatment Report created by Christina Finlayson, August 21st  2009.

Final Product:

Now that the drawings have been treated and are looking their best, we are showing the collection online through the Collections Search Center: Ernst Herzfeld drawings.   (See our original announcement here).

Freer|Sackler Archives

1 comment: