AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting- Architecture/Research and Technical Studies Joint Session, June 3, Protecting Marble from Corrosion by Sonia Naidu and George W. Scherer

This paper shares a testing program that incorporated the use of phosphate solutions to create a mineral coating (hydroxyapatite) on stone to impart strength and durability. The project goal was to consolidate the surface of weathered stones (primarily calcareous stones were tested) to prevent loss from dissolution. Naidu shared that the idea of this testing program came from natural patinas (phosphate and oxylate-based) that can be observed on stone surfaces. Calcium phosphate and hydroxyapatite (main inorganic component of teeth and bones) were analyzed.
Testing was conducted to react a phosphate source with calcite (carrara marble used), and diammonium hydrogen phosphate (DAP) was selected for further analysis through SEM/EDS and XRD. Variables of DAP concentrations (1m and 2m) and exposure times (12 hours and 24 hours) were analyzed. SEM images were used to evaluate film formation, and it was found that after 24 hours of 1M DAP concentration exposures that a dense film was created on the stone’s surface. Raising the concentration to 2M created a denser film, though spalling was evident. XRD confirmed the presence of apatite in the film.
Studies also found that during the process of converting minerals the porosity of the stone increased and further testing should consider adding calcium back into the stone. SEM analysis was used to evaluate the addition of calcium ions back into the samples, and the most coverage was seen with calcium chloride at a 1M concentration. Naidu also mentioned a study by Snethlage that reported success of converting minerals using ADP. This testing will continue and explore external ion additions and sequence transformation, control films, and comparison of effectiveness with calcium oxylate.
Naidu discussed the process of consolidation using silicate-based systems, pointing out that sometimes coupling agents such as tartaric acid are used to assist bonding. A comparison study was designed to evaluate Conservare OH100 and 1M DAP on artificially weathered limestone (heat was used to induce damage to samples). The consolidants were applied and the tensile strength (all samples) was tested at 2 days (DAP 25% increase) and 4 days (DAP 28% increase). The results indicated a greater improvement with DAP treated samples. This testing will continue and explore the effect of calcium ion additions, organic additives and extending samples to marble. Tracking the progress of this continued testing will be important, since there are relatively few stone consolidants on the market that meet current environmental and safety standards.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Objects Session, June 2, “The Impact of Access: Partnerships in Preservation” by Chuna McIntyre, Kelly McHugh, Ainslie Harrison, and Landis Smith

I found this to be a very inspirational and moving talk on many levels, in particular the exemplary collaborative nature of the projects described by Ainslie Harrison and Chuna McIntyre during the second day of the Objects Specialty Group session.  Ainslie introduced the subject of ethnographic collection access and the changing nature of access as academic methodologies have evolved within museums.  Over the past few decades, museums have become more inclusive through contacting native communities for repatriation, consultation, and advisory committees.  These partnerships can offer vast benefits and a dialogue that flows in both directions to preserve both the tangible and intangible aspects of museum collections.

The 2007 Anchorage Loan Project was the first collaboration between the Smithsonian and Chuna McIntyre, a Central Yup’ik Eskimo born and raised in the village of Eek in southwestern Alaska.  Chuna learned his ancient traditions from his grandmother, including dances, songs, and stories of his ancestors.  He currently shares his cultural heritage through travels, performances, and Yup’ik language instruction at Stanford University.  Ainslie detailed Chuna’s collaboration with the Smithsonian for the upcoming exhibition through several examples, including:

  1. A treatment on a pair of dance fans that had lost their plumage.  Chuna advised the conservators that a dance fan is designed to move through the space when you are dancing; without its feathers, it becomes a static object devoid of its original purpose.  Ainslie outlined the conservators’ concern that traces of the original quills remained inside the holes in the fan and they were hesitant to remove this original material.  Thus, a solution was found by designing a plexi backing for the attachment of new feathers.  In this way, the original material remained but the meaning and life of the object was restored for the visitor’s experience.
  2. A wooden Yup’ik diving seal mask had lost appendages (including its four-fingered spirit hand) during its lifetime in the Museum, but the pieces could not be located in storage.  Chuna expressed concern that the mask now told a different story, and he was able to carve new appendages that were pegged into the object.  The additions are based on photographs of the missing pieces, are reversible, and were documented by the conservators.  In addition, the existing feathers were static and old, and Chuna’s first instinct was to replace them.  Through his collaborations with conservators he acknowledged that for conservators, if something is intact, it needs to remain on the object.  Conservators were able to clean the existing feathers and stabilize other damages to bring the mask back to life.
  3. While at the Smithsonian, Chuna was able to access objects in the collection for his own study and cultural knowledge.  In one cited example, he was able to study a parka and make a glassine pattern to bring home to construct his own parka.

Chuna McIntyre then took the podium with a moving and inspirational combination of personal stories, anecdotes, and treatment examples.  He started with a Yup’ik quote, which he translated:  “A language is a spiritual mansion from which no one can evict us.”

He described his feelings during the 1970s when touring the Bronx museum, when he could never get to the other side of the glass to access his ancestor’s objects. “Objects have a way of telling their stories, but they are told front to back, top to bottom, and inside and out.”

As someone who is constantly thinking of ways we can use digital technology to enhance a visitor’s experience, I was particularly fascinated with Chuna’s view on technology.  He said: “The Yup’iks are not squeamish about using new things.  We find them exciting and they help us augment our culture and our place in this universe.  We’re all aborigines to this planet.”

He then described his involvement with the history of Central Yup’ik mask restoration.  If an object needs its proper fur and feathers and the object itself is not accessible, then new technology will allow Chuna to virtually restore the object.  He cited virtual and physical restoration examples from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY and the Arctic Studies center at the Smithsonian. ”It is a privilege to work with these objects.  These are our world treasures and museums house them.  It is a privilege to go to museums and view these objects.”

Chuna described his experiences visiting sites in Egypt, such as the pyramids and Tutankhamen’s tomb, and relayed his excitement at seeing the pharaoh by saying “I sang to him in Yup’ik, I couldn’t help myself!” He mentioned his impressions of Ankor Wat, Petra, and Macchu Pichu, and that great expanses of the sites were actively restored and maintained.  His ancestor’s masks are no different – they are monuments to his culture – and should be restored for us and for our future generations.

The talk concluded with a traditional Yup’ik song of thanks that Chuna learned from his grandmother:

He translated the lyrics: Thank you for my labrets /  Thank you for ‘I can see into the distance’  /  Thank you for all my necklaces.  The song teaches that as we mature and acquire “accoutrements of responsibility” we are to be thankful for them.  I was thankful for the inspirational messages and collaborative projects, and I left the lecture hall with a new outlook on restoring ethnographic collections.  And goosebumps.


AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Objects Morning Session, June 3, “Tangible vs. Intangible Collections: The Journey of Two Objects,” by Vinod Daniel and Dion Peita

The first three talks in the Friday morning OSG session all dealt with the issue of finding a balance between preservation and access.  In his talk titled “Tangible vs. Intangible Collections: The Journey of Two Objects”, Vinod Daniel, head of Cultural Heritage and Science Initiatives at the Australian Museum, demonstrated the ways in which he and his colleagues are working to bridge the gap between collections and communities.  While the Austrian Museum holds a wide variety of cultural material, half of the objects in the collection (some 60,000 objects) come from the Pacific region; almost three quarters of this material is from the indigenous cultures of Papua New Guinea.  Vinod and his co-author Dion Peita, Collections Coordinator for Cultural Collections and Community Engagement at the Australian Museum, engage in regular exchanges with people from the Pacific Islands and, more recently, with Pacific Island peoples living in the greater Sidney area.  These exchanges allow these groups to access their material culture in a very tangible way.  Objects from the collection are used for ceremonies and performances, which necessitates a dialogue between the caretakers of the object and the users.  For example, a bowl from the collection was used in a Kava Ceremony—part of an Intangible Heritage Forum held at the Museum in 2009—to mix water and plant materials.  The bowl was cleaned after the ceremony, and although no physical change was observed, its appearance was somewhat altered.  On hearing this anecdote I found myself wondering where this arguably acceptable change to the object would fall in the conventional ethical framework of our profession.  Yes, the bowl was altered through its use, but the intangible benefits of the activation of the bowl and the documentation of its ceremonial context, were evident.

Much of Vinod’s talk centered around an exciting cultural renewal project that is reconnecting people from the Vanuatu Islands, particularly the Island of Erromango, with their material culture.  After European contact in the mid 19th c., a dramatic decrease in the population and the discouraging of traditional practices led to an almost complete loss of the Island’s material culture.  Fortuitously, some of this material ended up in the Australian Museum, brought there by a Christian missionary.  Today, a collaboration between the Vanuatu Cultural Center and the Australian Museum is allowing the people of Erromango once again to access their cultural heritage.  Through the Visiting Elders Program, members of the Erromango community were able to study and handle objects from the Museum’s collection, many of which were no longer produced on their Island.   Sophie Nemban, a woman from Erromango working for the Vanuatu Cultural Center, was provided with funding to study the Museum’s collection of 532 objects from Erromango.  Ms. Nemban was able to examine and touch the objects, some of which she then recreated back home.  Her work aims to revive traditional female crafts on Erromango, and the acquisition of some of this new material by the Australian Museum speaks to the success for her efforts.  Vinod then showed the following video, available on the Museum’s website, in which Chief Jerry Taki talks about the singing arrows from Erromango: Singing Arrows. When asked if he wanted these objects to be repatriated, Jerry Taki said no, he believes that the objects are “at peace” where they are.  In an interview he referred to the Museum’s collection areas as a “sacred dancing ground”.

In addition to facilitating access within the Museum, Vinod and his colleagues believe that it’s also important to bring the collection to the Vanuatu Islands.  Most of young people on the Islands have never seen these objects or any like them, and the Australian Museum has put together a “suitcase” of sorts containing a digital version of the collection that can be brought to schools.  The Museum is also working to facilitate web access, particularly for diasporaic Pacific Island communities in the West, through projects like the Virtual Museum of the Pacific.

Vinod ended his talk by discussing the broader concerns raised by increased access: the physical handling of objects (“do people have to wear white gloves all the time?” and “is change to objects acceptable?”); security issues; and the inability of conservators and collections people to have complete control over what happens to the objects.  He believes the secrets to the successful balance between preservation and access include establishing relationships, investing time, showing genuine interest, repeated visits and, of course, a dedicated budget.  As someone who deals mainly with archaeological materials, I spend most of my time thinking about the tangible nature of objects…but Vinod’s talk was a very effective reminder that the stewardship of cultural heritage must also include the preservation of its intangible properties.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting- Joint Objects and Archaeological Discussion Group Session, June 2, “Get Your Fieldwork for Nothin’ and Your Sherds for Free: Compensation for Archaeological Field Conservators,” Suzanne Davis and Claudia Chemello

Just what does an ‘80s rock band have to do with conservation?  Quite a bit, according to Claudia Chemello and Suzanne Davis, Conservators at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, who gave a talk titled: “Get Your Fieldwork for Nothin’ and Your Sherds for Free: Compensation for Archaeological Field Conservation.”  The title refers to the Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing”, which proved an excellent inverse parallel for the Qualtrics survey Claudia and Suzanne conducted, the findings of which they presented in this talk.  For context, you might want to go ahead and watch the music video for this song before reading the rest of this blog entry: Money for Nothin’

Claudia and Suzanne started this project with three hypotheses:

  1. Most conservators working on archaeological sites are not paid
  2. For those who are paid, there is no standard
  3. Most conservators are unhappy with the current state of compensation.

Happily, their first hypothesis turned out to be false: 82% of the conservators surveyed are paid something.  Of the respondents who did not get paid, the highest percentage (33%) said that the project was not able to pay a conservator, but, interestingly, did pay other professional staff; this slide is appropriately accompanied by a photograph from 1920 of a young volunteer on site in Syria who says: “Get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free?”.  69% of the conservators who were paid also volunteered on other projects, and they did so for several reasons: they wanted to help a project with a small budget, they wanted to gain experience, or simply because they enjoy it.  I think its safe to say that many of us in the audience, myself included, have done some amount of unpaid conservation work—in the field or out of the field—for one or more of those reasons.

Although only 50 of the 116 responders used for analysis provided salary data, the information given by these 50 professionals proved that the authors’ second hypothesis is correct: there does not appear to be a standard salary for field conservators.  Indeed, the salaries provided varied rather dramatically, ranging from $58 per week to $8,000 per week!  The mean salary was $946 a week, the median $563, and the mode $1,000.   The difference between the very low minimum salary and very high maximum salary is partially based on the experience of the conservator: the person making the highest salary was very experienced and provided a number of services other than conservation treatment.

Claudia and Suzanne reported a number of other interesting statistics: 44% of the responders have only 0-5 years of experience (perhaps this explains the relatively low median salary?); 72% of those paid were paid by archaeological projects and 68% of these conservators were compensated based on the project’s budget (“are we letting projects determine what we’re paid?”); and a rather surprising 22% of respondents did not provide their projects with a written report (yikes!).  The survey yielded many other interesting results, too many for a single blog post, and I look forward to re-visiting them in the Postprints.

In the end, it turns out that only 41% of the respondents are satisfied with their current state of compensation—proving the authors’ third hypothesis to be more or less correct.  Claudia and Suzanne hope that the data obtained in this survey will be used for the following purposes: in salary discussions with dig directors and employers; to educate dig directors about the number and value of the services provided for their projects; to encourage conservators not writing reports to do so; and to advocate for an appropriate conservation budget from the beginning of the grant-writing process.  The authors told the audience to feel empowered to challenge the statement: “everyone on my project works for free”.   This fascinating (and entertaining) talk certainly emphasized the importance of communication and outreach, essential topics that have been highlighted by many of the speakers in this meeting.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting- Joint Objects and Archaeological Discussion Group Session, June 2, “Beyond the Field Lab: Emergency Conservation in the Granicus River Valley of Northwestern Turkey,” by Donna Strahan

The afternoon OSG/ADG session began with a fascinating talk by Donna Strahan, Conservator in the Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that very successfully demonstrated the importance of cooperation and flexibility in the preservation of cultural property. Donna began by introducing the site of Troy, where she has spent many seasons as a field conservator.  Troy is excavated by a number of international institutions, but a single conservation lab treats the finds unearthed from all of the excavations. The large site provides ample opportunities for education, functioning as both an archaeological field school and a place for conservation training for an international group of students.  Each season there are between one and six conservators and up to four languages spoken in the lab.  Although language barriers can pose some difficulty, the varied training and experience of the conservators facilitates the exchange of ideas and re-evaluation of conservation practice.

In addition to treating finds from the site—an impressive 500-700 per year—the Troy lab is also called upon to do emergency treatment at neighboring sites in the Granicus River Valley.  Donna emphasized that emergency conservation is about triage and compromise.  The needs of the objects must be prioritized, but the decision of what gets treated outside of Troy is often tied to local politics. The help of the Troy team is often sought in response to or in anticipation of looting, an example of which is the Dedetepe Tumulus, dating to the 5th c. BCE.   In the course of their work, the Troy conservators discovered, among other things, the fingerprints of ancient robbers on the marble sarcophagus, painted marble beds, and a shattered alabaster vessel with resides of Tyrian purple; the latter may provide direct evidence of a funeral ceremony that involved dipping ribbons into purple dye and tying them around a vessel.  Donna then went on to describe several other Granicus River Valley projects:

  • The Polyxena Sarcophagus, with associated remains of a funeral cart
  • The Parion necropolis, where they found a physician’s burial that included a medicine box with arsenic and lead-containing pills (“a Roman Dr. Kevorkian,” Donna suggested)
  • The beautifully painted Çan Sarcophagus with interesting examples of damnatio memoriae, which looters broke into with a backhoe(!).
  • The sites and artifacts receiving emergency care from the Troy team are not always associated with ancient cultures—at the site of the WWI Battle of Gallipoli, a leather shoe was found with the remains of a foot still inside.  Although Donna suggested reburial, the Gallipoli Museum wanted the “object” on view as a reminder of the horrors of war.  Although Donna, and probably many of us in the audience, would consider reburial to be a more ethical decision, she reminded us how important it is to be sensitive to the customs and desires of the country you’re working in.

These case studies were wonderful illustrations of both the difficulties and benefits of emergency conservation.  Emergency excavations, Donna said, are rarely scientifically excavated, there is rarely time to plan, and you’re often working with unfamiliar people and objects.  However, without this important work, the wealth of information contained in these sites and artifacts might be lost entirely.  The finds from Granicus River Valley projects are regularly published in the Studia Troica, giving these objects (which generally languish in storage or worse) a place in the archaeological record.  At the end of her talk, Donna showed a recent picture of Dedeteppe Tumulus, completely destroyed by looters—a powerful reminder of just how essential emergency conservation can be.

In the question period, Tony Sigel, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture at the Harvard Art Museums, said that his rule of thumb is to generally make any modern damage to an object as invisible as possible.  He asked Donna if she considered inpainting the damage done by the looters with the backhoe.  Donna replied that she would not choose to inpaint for two reasons: she did not want observers to think that the conservators were “repainting” the sarcophagus, and she thought it was important to demonstrate just how much damage looting does.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Objects Session, June 1, “Deep Storage: Reburial as a Conservation Tool” by Emily Williams

During the archaeological-themed session of the Objects Specialty Group, Emily Williams spoke about her experience with a critical issue for archaeological conservators:  vast quantities of objects and limited storage space.  I have been tangentially involved in decisions to rebury large architectural marble columns in situ at the Etruscan site of Poggio Colla, so I was keenly interested in Emily’s approach.

Beginning in the 1970s there has been exponential growth in museum archaeological collections in America.  States have been forced to close facilities to incoming finds due to lack of cataloging resources or space, and the cost of storage facilities that meet modern conservation standards can be prohibitively high.  Emily made a fun and appropriate analogy:  can storages move like hermit crabs?  The answer:  not logically.

In America there is a trend to deaccession objects that no longer fit within a collection.  However, this is a risky undertaking for objects in archaeological contexts because of the interdependence of objects within a site.  Deaccessioning part of a collection could compromise reliable data sets or future analysis.  Disposal, sale, or transfer to another institution are equally problematic.  “No one wants rusty nails.”  Reburial is a tool that has been used for large-scale organics such as shipwrecks, and Emily cited the reburial of underwater material in Marstrand, Sweden.

At Colonial Williamsburg, the conservators are faced with a collection of 60 million artifacts (!), and over half of the historic area is yet to be excavated.  Emily discussed a project involving the transfer of the archaeological collection to new climate-controlled storage spaces, including 50 pallets of architectural material (brick and stone fragments non-scientifically excavated from the historic area in the 1930s and 1940s).  These pallets took up 5,000 cubic feet of storage and 45% of the total budget.  The material was mostly non-diagnostic, not requested or accessed, and attracting animal infestation (evidenced by prolific nesting of rodents and insects).  Given these concerns, the decision was made to re-bury non-diagnostic brick and stone fragments with the understanding that they could be re-excavated if necessary.

Very specific details were given about the re-burial choices.  For example, the fragments were bagged and placed in their original pine crates with Tyvek tags (written in both Sharpie and pencil).  They were grouped by site, only stacked 2 deep, and GPS marked.  The crates were placed in an existing excavated cellar within the historic area and backfilled with sand.

I am particularly grateful when speakers present positives and negatives of a given choice, and Emily outlined both.  Due to financial restraints, the original pine crates were used.  If she were to do this again, HDPE would be preferred, as the pine will eventually decompose and some of the archaeological context could be lost.  Individual fragments were not labeled due to time and the sheer number of small pieces, but this would have been preferred.  Ideally, they would have reburied the material in a trench outside the historic area in the event that the house would be rebuilt in the future.  The obvious lack of access to the collection was mentioned, and the concern that reburied collections could become “out of sight, out of mind.”

This method of reburial is not without ethical and spatial concerns, but given these limitations, there are vast preservation gains for the collection as a whole.  There is no correct answer for these difficult decisions, but I agree with Emily’s approach that we need to view archaeological collections in a “holistic rather than particularistic” way.


AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Objects Session, June 1, “Recovering Painted Organic Objects from Ancient Mesoamerica: Strategic Considerations in the Field and the Lab” by Harriet F. Beaubien.

The first session of talks for the Objects Specialty Group focused on archaeological materials.  Fitting to the theme, Rae Beaubien opened the talk by picking up the headlamp near the computer (improvisation by the always-prepared Program Chair Sanchita Balachandran when the podium light was missing) and exclaimed “Oh good, there’s a headlamp!”  Then she proceeded to wear it long enough for the audience to laugh.  This welcome humor introduced a talk that focused on her extensive fieldwork experience in Mesoamerica and practical considerations for the recovery of fragile painted organic objects (you guessed it, the acronym is none other than POO).  I was particularly looking forward to this talk because of my interest in archaeological material and my awe and respect for Rae’s knowledge and treatment skills (introduced to me when she was an adjunct archaeological instructor during my conservation training at Buffalo).

These painted organic objects, typically made of gourds or wood, are often only detected if they are associated with an inorganic material like stucco, paint, or stone.  They were a significant part of ancient Mayan material culture during the Classical Mayan Period (3rd – 9th centuries C.E.) and are commonly associated with offerings and furnishings in high-status tombs.  Due to the incredible instability of the material, the prolific nature of these organic materials is only known through depictions on Mayan art, written descriptions from Spanish missionaries, and similar examples in use by modern cultures.

Rae illustrated examples of surviving objects from the sites of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, Cerén in El Salvador, Copán in Honduras, and Waka’-El Perú in Guatemala.  The ability to successfully excavate this type of material is based on conservation involvement, as well as other factors:  How accessible is the deposit?  How much time is available?  Can the high-value materials be cleared first to prevent looting? Can conservation be done later?

Through images and anecdotes, Rae illustrated a number of conservation strategies and practical recovery methods  for a variety of excavation situations.  For example, a jumbled deposit of paint flakes, jades, shells, stone, and ceramics from Copán was collected within a grid pattern of 350 squares, stratigraphically if the layers were preserved.  If the surface required consolidation, it was photographed, then B-72 was used with a subsequent facing of Japanese tissue and methylcellulose.  The material within each grid square was transferred to a container and brought to the lab for a slow and careful excavation under the microscope.  Incredibly, they were able to identify a painted wooden burial platform from hundreds of lifted containers.  Other considerations were mentioned and addressed, such as:  Does it need pre-consolidation? Can you gain access underneath the object?  Can the floor be cut?  Is it resting face-up or down?  For objects resting face-up, can you clean and photograph them first?

Rae’s talk was peppered with clever terms, such as:

  • “articulated removal” to join groups of fragments using methylcellulose and Japanese tissue
  • “informational reconstruction” of a large object based on multiple lifted areas
  • “assisted lifting” (my favorite!)

For the most fragile objects, block lifts were performed to keep the fragments in their original alignment and to buy extra time for excavation in the lab.  Methods were used such as wrapping in plaster bandages and applying cyclododecane.  Extensive stabilization was required, as the objects had to be packed and carried on rough hiking trails two miles back to camp.

The talk ended with a reiteration that even failed block lifts can yield valuable information (through loose fragments to categorize, cross section, or use for pigment analysis) and that any effort to retrieve these fragile objects is worth it.  The talk successfully balanced an overall conservation strategy with practical treatment examples, and I came away with an increased knowledge of Mesoamerican organics, their fragility, and the conservation involvement that has played a crucial role in their recovery and interpretation.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting- Architecture/Research and Technical Studies Joint Session, The Basics of Recirculating Fountain Maintenance by Robert Krueger

This talk presented an approach to fountain care that is preventative, focusing on maintaining an ideal water chemistry to prolong the life of fountains and associated mechanical systems, plumbing and artwork.  Krueger presented a process for treatments to fountains, particularly when biogrowth is observed. Prior to treating water chemistry, Krueger recommended draining the water and mechanically cleaning the elements with a surfactant and clean water, taking care to rinse thoroughly.
Fountains must then be re-filled and if using a municipal water source it is likely that minerals and organic matter must be addressed, while a distilled water source may require addition of minerals. Krueger explained the concept of water saturation, and that unsaturated (soft) and supersaturated (hard) water both create problems either with leaching or precipitates. Water saturated of minerals is ideal, and pH and water temperature both affect saturation as well. Krueger recommended the Taylor Brand test kit, which is available at commercial pool/spa supply stores, to assist with balancing and monitoring water chemistry.
Regarding biogrowth, he explained that additives such as silver/copper, chlorine and quaternary ammonia all can effectively control growth but can cause issues such as staining, deterioration of mechanical systems and water foaming. Poly-quats act as blocking agents in swimming pools and ponds, and Krueger recommended its use for controlling bacteria and fungi. Filters help maintain water chemistry and control biogrowth by limiting nutrients available in water. Krueger explained that oligotropic water is ideal (trace amounts of minerals Ni, Zn and Cu), and that controlling phosphate levels is recommended to limit biogrowth.
A series of steps were presented for checking levels and making alterations to the water chemistry. 1- Make visual observations, as the presence of a slippery surface can indicate the beginning of growth. 2- Test water (phosphate levels, temperature, and level of polyquats which requires a special kit). If high levels of phosphates are found then it can be remedied by draining some water and refilling it (if under 125ppm) or using a chelating agent and then backwashing (if over 125ppm). To adjust alkalinity, sodium bicarbonate can be added in small quantities and checked every 24 hours. Then total dissolved solids (hardness) should be tested and followed by checking calcium carbonate hardness, keeping in mind that calcium hypochlorite should not be added to adjust, rather by draining some water and adding new. Finally the overall saturation should be checked. 3- Inspect mechanical equipment. Filters should be inspected per manufacturer’s instructions. Krueger shared that he is researching the practice of adding barley straw in water, as there is published data that supports or disputes its ability to eliminate algae by releasing peroxides in the water.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Architecture/Research and Technical Studies Joint Session, June 3, Biodiversity and Control Methods of Phototrophic Colonization on Artistic Fountains, Oana A. Cuzman and Piero Tiano

This talk focused on research studies of biodiversity and treatments to control biogrowth on fountains, thus slowing the deterioration of stone. Cuzman explained several factors that affect micro-environmental conditions including: water regime (continuous or sporadic), materials (intrinsic properties), location (colonizers) and treatments (to water or fountains). Four fountains were selected in this study – two in Florence, Italy and two in Grenada, Spain (Patio de la Sultana and Patio de la Lindaraja). Microbial diversity of the colonized surfaces (green algae, cyanobacteria, and diatoms) was identified on the surface, forming a complex structure (biofilm); DNA sequencing was used to characterize sampled biofilms, and similarities were found between the two different geographic areas.
Regarding removal of biofilms, mechanical removal or water treatments can be effective. For this experiment a chemical treatment was also explored by adding an antifouling agent to a commercial waterproof coating (Wacker Chemie AG, SILRES® BS 290). Antifouling agents considered include: poly-alkyl pryidium salts, zosteric acid, capsaicin, and algophase.
Two fountains were selected for treatment (Tacca’s fountain in Italy and Patio de la Lindaraja in Spain), and both fountains were drained and mechanically cleaned. Afterwards, the modified waterproof coating was applied and allowed to cure for two weeks before adding water back to the fountains. Both fountains were visually observed, and at four months slow growth was observed, while at six months significant green growth was observed. Sample analysis from both fountains found a decreasing number of colonizing organisms, so even though growth was observed the diversity of organisms in the biofilm was affected. Cuzman found that the treatment only affected specific colonizers and that the unaffected ones flourished with less competition. Research on this subject will continue, perhaps modifying the antifouling agents (amount or types) added to the coating.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Changing Attitudes Towards Musical Instrument Conservation in Russia

Laurence Libin gave an overview of his impressions of the current state of musical instrument conservation in Russia. He visited St. Petersburg numerous times in the past 15-years and his interactions with museum staff and his knowledge of the history of the region have allowed him to come to some conclusions about musical instrument conservation in Russia.

Musical instruments are made to function and create music, and he sets this function as a rationale for the continued use of the instruments which may lead to their destruction.

He also cites the philosophical doctrine of fatalism, applied to musical instruments, means that the instruments, like people, are resigned to their fate and conservation is a lost cause. There is very little funding in Russian museums and many museum staff hold second or third jobs to make ends meet.

Even with these setbacks, there is a growing interest in musical instrument conservation in Russia and there is respect amongst museum professionals at the craft of the conservator. The ICOM International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections is helpful at creating appreciation and standards for collections. The speaker was generally positive about the future of musical instrument conservation in Russia.