Behind the scenes of the Getty Museum: The Painting Conservation Laboratory and the Stark Outdoor Sculpture Collection

Thursday afternoon, a sunny day in LA: perfect time for visiting the Getty Museum Conservation Laboratory!
There were 2 separate tours organized at the Getty :
-the “Getty Museum Conservation Laboratory and the Outdoor Sculpture Collection Tour” -the “GCI Research Facilities and the Architectural Tour”.
Voulonteers of the Museum Conservation Laboratory and the GCI guided the groups during the tours.

We had a great time having a look behind the scenes of the Museum visiting the conservation laboratory.
We were too many people to enter the rooms at the same time, so the “Museum group” was split in two allowing each group to have the best experience possible inside.
Herant Khanjian from GCI guided my group during the whole afternoon.

We first visited the Sculpture Conservation Area. The conservator Julie Wolfe explained that the Getty collection consists of artworks from antiquity to present days and the main tasks of the Laboratory are: preparation for the exhibitions, prevention from earthquakes, collection care and research.
A big bronze statue inside the room was a perfect example of collaboration and research: the GCI researchers and the museum conservator were cooperating to study and verify the cleaning of the naturally aged "Incralac" protective layer from the surface of the sculpture. This study would be very useful to guide future decisions about protection layer composition.
We went to the Outdoor Sculpture Collection and we had time to look at other interesting exemples of outdoor sculpture care such as the case of Barbara Hepworth's sculpture.

At the Paintings Conservation Studio, we met the other conservators and they showed us the artworks inside. Particular attention was given to the technical study of the panel paintings, from structure to colour layer. Both practical and theoretical aspects influence conservative decisions.
Coopertation between Istitutions is of great importance for specific needs such us a dendrochronologic investigation or other issues. Furthermore, a complete conservation treatment could be realised in collaboration with other Museums or Istitutes. It was the case of the Guercino's painting on canvas from the National Gallery of Dublin which was under restoration together with the National Gallery's conservator.

Conservators were available for questions at the end of the tour and after that we had one hour free to enjoy the Museum. I loved the many galleries and the temporary exhibition “London Calling” with paintings by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and many more.
The view from the terraces was terrific, even if the one you could admire from the window of the Paintings Conservation Studio was not less breathtaking!

Post by: Maria Laura Petruzzellis