Topics in Photographic Preservation 2005, Volume 11, Article 9 (pp. 79-79)

Treatment of Andreas Gursky's Rhine II: Testing of Dusting Materials and Cleaning Cloths

Erin L. Murphy

Presented at the 2005 PMG Winter Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia


The Museum of Modern Art is currently involved in an extensive, long-range project regarding the preservation and treatment of face-mounted photographs in the Museum's collection and elsewhere. One segment of this project focuses on removal of dust and accretions from the acrylic surface of Rhine II, a 61¼ × 121½ inch face-mounted photograph by German photographer, Andreas Gursky. In preparation for its exhibition, conservators tested a series of dusting materials and cleaning cloths in order to determine the most appropriate method for cleaning the delicate acrylic surface of the photograph. The dusting materials included a lambswool duster, hake brush, Static Master brush, cotton swabs, dusting brush and forced air. Cleaning cloths included a Microfiber cloth, Lint Free Wyp-Alls, Pec Pads, Dust Bunnies, wet conditioned chamois, dry conditioned chamois, cotton flannel and loose cotton. The products were tested on face-mounted photograph facsimiles. Surface changes in the acrylic due to treatment were measured for percent change in specular and diffuse reflectance using a Minolta CM2500d Spectrophotometer and visually assessed with photomacrographs viewed under differential interference contrast lighting. Based on the experimentation, the conservators chose a lambswool duster as a safe method of removing dust from the surface of the photograph and a Microfiber cloth for more extensive cleaning of accretions.

Erin L. Murphy
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow
Museum of Modern Art

Papers presented in Topics in Photographic Preservation, Volume Eleven have not undergone a formal process of peer review.