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Track: Inquiry

Taking Care of My Art

This journal assignment should demonstrate your ability to:
· Identify questions or concerns about taking care of your art.
· Identify experts who can help you learn more about taking care of art.

Getting Started
Below is a list of topics about taking care of art. Lesson Three introduces these topics as they apply to the art of Luis Jiménez.
A. Threats from People
B. Threats from Nature
C. Assessing Condition
D. Restoration
E. Protection

Review what you've already learned about the artwork you selected. Think of a question that relates each topic to the artwork you selected. For example for the first topic about threats from people, you might ask:

  • Is there any damage visible in the artwork I selected that might have been caused by a person?
  • Do I know where the artwork is presently located and what people might have access to it there?

Once you have selected a topic (other than A), think about whom in art has knowledge and experience about this topic. Different art experts understand art in different ways. Click to read descriptions of what various art experts do. You can learn a lot from experts if you ask specific questions about the things they know best.

For example you might ask the registrar of the organization that owns or is responsible for an artwork whether the organization's files include any record of vandalism. [CAUTION: Damage from vandalism or other cause may not be invisible in a reproduction or even in the original artwork, especially if the artwork has been repaired or restored.] You might ask a curator (or registrar) who has owned the artwork from the time it was made to the present and where it has been stored or displayed over the years. You might ask an art historian whether people ever used the artwork for some practical, ceremonial, or other function when people might have touched it.

Below are links to some interesting Websites that feature taking care of art:

Click to see before and after shots of restored paintings.

Click to see how restorers have filled in missing sections of an ancient sculpture so that viewers can tell which parts are original (tan) and which are restored (white).

Click to find out more about the work of the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles.

Click to learn more about the Save Outdoor Sculpture program.

Click to see photographs of parts of Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling before and after restoration.

Click to learn about treasures lost and efforts to preserve treasures after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Now think about whether there is someone outside art who has experience or knowledge about the topic you selected. Click to read descriptions of what experts in a variety of disciplines do. The list names only experts used in this program. Of course there are others, including psychologists, mechanics, physicians, lawyers, athletes, musicians, and many more who can bring different perspectives to the topic. Again, you can learn a lot from experts if you ask specific questions about the things they know best.

For example for the first topic, threats from people, you might ask a chemist to identify the components of human perspiration that might affect the surface of your artwork if it is touched (for example effects on natural dies, on wood, or on bronze patina). You might ask an historian what major political, economic, and social events took place in any location where your artwork has been stored or displayed.

Click to read about the continuing controversy about the Elgin Marbles removed from the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and now on display at the British Museum in London. Political, economic, and social events in the early 19th Century and today affected and continue to affect how well the ancient marble sculptures were preserved in the past and will be taken care of in the future. Fifty-six marble panels were taken in 1801 by the 7th Earl Elgin, former British ambassador to the Ottoman empire. In 1816 bankruptcy forced Elgin to sell the marbles to the British government. Click to see the original location in Greece and scroll down to see panels on display in London.

Choose one of the topics (not A) to write about in your journal.

  • Think of a question related to the topic that you believe an art expert might be able to help you answer.
  • Think of a question related to the topic that you believe an expert outside art might help you answer.

I included:

  1. The topic I selected (B,C, D, or E)
  2. Present location of the artwork
  3. A specific type of art expert who might guide my inquiry
  4. A question related to this topic for an art expert
  5. A type of non-art expert who might guide my inquiry
  6. A question related to the topic for a non-art expert
  7. Any other thoughts I have about what may have damaged (or might in the future damage) the artwork or about how it has been or might be protected.

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