Monday, 27 February 2012

Is repatriation always this complex?

Artdaily reported Polish and US officials are discussing the details of a possible repatriation case. A barrack that once stood in Auschwitz-Birkenau has been on loan to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC for almost 20 years now. The barrack was used as shelter for prisoners awaiting to be executed during WW2 and is charged with significance to many groups.

According to the Polish officials the loan contract explicitly establish 20 years as a deadline for the 'artefact' to return to Poland. But the Holocaust Museum argues it is in no condition to travel.

Artdaily clarifies that:
"The issue has arisen because of a Polish law aimed at safeguarding a cultural heritage ravaged by past wars, particularly World War II. Under the law, passed in 2003, any historic object on loan abroad must return to Poland every five years for inspection. While Poland appears open to renewing the loan, it says the barracks must return — at least temporarily."
Also, according to Polish officials, numerous works of art and artefacts were removed from Poland during or after WW2.

These discussions are obviously immensely sensitive but not much information on the reasoning of either side has been give.

See more here 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Pesticides in collections

The Central Science/Artful Science blog has an interesting post (Arsenic contaminated artifacts) about objects contaminated with biocides (pesticides). 
Ethnographic collections are full of such objects, even though it is not always easy to tell when an object has been treated with a biocide or not. The ICOM-CC Working Group on Ethnographic Collections has a page dedicated to the subject, with a lot of useful information on identification and mitigation. As you will see, there are quite a few ways to identify biocides but unfortunately we still do not have enough methods to counteract or eliminate the biocides. 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Looting of Olympia Museum

Really awful to hear that armed thieves looted the Olympia Museum this morning and took around 60 artefacts.
You didn't read it wrong, I really mean ARMED.  Even more awful to hear that this was not the first of such 'events' in less than a month. 

Let's wait for the lists and photos of the artefacts and make sure we shout really loud if we ever see them! 

See more at Reuters or Channel Four News 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Moving a Schnabel from the Netherlands to Italy (and back)

Image from the Stedelijk Museum Journal 
This very informative and also entertaining video shows the journey of Julian Schnabel's 1981  ‘The unexpected death of Blinky Palermo in the tropics  from the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) to Museo Correr (Venice), to be part of a Schnabel retrospective. 

The painting was packed in a wooden crater, which was watertight, equipped with shock absorbers, climate control, air suspension systems and what not! 

Read the details on the Stedelijk Museum Journal. Thanks, Jen Bosworth, for showing this to me! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Conference on conservation of modern and contemporary mural paintings

The Instituto Universitario de Restauracion del Patrimonio (Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain) is organizing a conference focusing on various aspects of the care of mural paintings.
'Modern and Contemporary Mural Paintings: technique, conservation and access' will take place in Valencia on 4th and 5th May 2012.
See the programme here 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A review of 'Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums - Preserving our Language, Memory and Lifeways'

Take a look at the new contribution to the Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies (JCMS). Tharron Bloomfield, conservator from Aotearoa (New Zealand), comments on 'Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums - Preserving our Language, Memory and Lifeways', a book recently edited by Roy, L., Bhasin, A. and Arriaga, S.K.
See it here

Monday, 6 February 2012

The beauty of incomplete and fragmentary

Back garden and main entrance of the
Thessaloniki Museum of Archaeology
 Greece, 2011
I am very interested in how people look at fragmentary/incomplete objects. For some reason we find incomplete works of art more often in museums today than a few years ago. I was very stimulated, for example, by the solutions found at the Thessaloniki Museum of Archaeology - especially the large pot they have by their main entrance.

The 'need' to have things completely restored is definitely changing but I wonder why this is happening.  From conversations with friends (who only go to museums as visitors) I find that people are increasingly more interested in things as they are, rather than as they 'should be'. Would there be wider socio-political influences or motivations? Is it just fashion? But even fashion is motivated by the context...

Image from 'Better Broken',  Met. Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a video called 'Better Broken' where Navina Haidar, Islamic art curator, elaborates on how the missing, the lacking, the fragmentary may actually have its own kind of beauty, or may even enhance certain features of the piece.  See it  here

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Our 'slight' obsession with da Vinci

While the controversy over the Vasari/da Vinci painting at the Palazzo Vechio in Firenze still evolves we are now getting ready to meet the 'new' Mona Lisa.

The objective of the Vasari/da Vinci investigation is to assert whether Vasari really 'encased' a da Vinci within one of his own works or not. The main problem is that the invasive techniques used in the investigation may damage the Vasari.  I suppose almost all of us would love to reveal an unknown da Vinci but I wonder how many would be willing to damage a Vasari in the process. The project is ongoing, despite a petition signed by around 300 scholars asking the mayor of Firenze to stop it.
See more on the NYT and BBC

The 'new' Mona Lisa emerged earlier this week. It is supposedly a copy of the piece at the Louvre, executed by one of da Vinci's pupils. The painting has been at the Prado for many years but seems to have undergone conservation work recently. Not much has been said about the conservation intervention itself, other than it revealed a background very similar to those of da Vinci's ... Experts are now saying the painting has potential to raise more information about how da Vinci's studio was operated. We will see!
More on the BBC and the Telegraph

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