Air Cleaning Creates Optimal Environment for Art Conservation and Restoration

Museums often use extractor arms to improve art conservation and restoration projects.

Museums often try to restore precious works of art to their former glory, which is usually done through meticulous inspection and work. However, an environment that is full of air impurities such as dirt and dust could impede art conservation and restoration efforts. This is why art directors and experts choose bench top fume extractors while performing their inspections and modifications to establish optimal working conditions for restoration work.

The Seattle Art Museum is preparing to display Jackson Pollock’s 1947 painting “Sea Change” after a year of intense cleaning, The Seattle Times reported. Hailed as one of the greatest paintings in the 20th century, “Sea Change” was kept in the art museum’s conservation studio to be worked on by Chief Conservator Nicholas Dorman. 

The Seattle Art Museum’s arduous job of saving Pollock’s “Sea Change” was funded by Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project. After getting its start in 2010, the Art Conservation Project helped to pay for 57 art projects internationally. For 2013, the fund will go toward several projects including, conservation of Rembrandt’s only known painting in the Czech Republic, which is called “Scholar in His Study,” according to Art Conservation Project’s website.

“Due to its fragile condition, the painting has not left Prague in decades and cannot be loaned,” the Art Conservation Project website said. “The conservation will stabilize the condition and prevent further losses of paint layers. The thinning of yellowed varnish and removal of old retouching will restore the painting´s original splendor.”

Knowing the fragile state of paintings such as these, these works of art need to be kept in conditions that are free of contaminants. 

Air filtration systems supporting art conservation projects
Art museums and experts often use extractor arms to remove contaminants at the source and emit clean air into the room to support their conservation efforts. This helps create a sterile environment to perform microscopic studies of paintings without having dirt and other contaminants disturb their work.

In the process of conserving Pollock’s “Sea Change,” Dorman looked at the painting under a microscope to evaluate several layers of the paint. He had to remove the layer of synthetic resin varnish that had been applied in the late 1970s, which could have damaged the painting and taken away from its appearance.

Camille Czerkowicz, an art restorer, uses air filtration systems to reduce the amount of dust that could impact works of art, the New York Times reported.

In addition to removing dirt or dust, air filtration is also integral to preventing airborne impurities such as mold from affecting art conservation. Eric Pourchot, institutional advancement director of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation in Washington, handled damaged artwork after Hurricane Sandy. The emergency response team at the institute had to work to prevent mold growth on water damaged paper.

“Saving an object can certainly be important, but if you’ve lost the context for that, you’ve gone from the shoe that George Washington wore at his inauguration to an old shoe,” Pourchot said, according to the New York Times. “Saving the information about the object is just as important.”

Indoor air pollution and air quality news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.