Category Archives: Care of Glass

Care and Handling of Artwork at Museum of Glass: Protection from Fire, Water, and Pests

By Rebecca Engelhardt, Collections and Exhibitions Manager

As part of our ongoing series on the care of artwork at Museum of Glass (MOG), this post reviews the methods that we use to protect our collections from fire, water, and pests.

The Curatorial department at MOG works closely with our colleagues in the Security and Facilities departments to monitor for the threat of fire, water, and pests.

Fire

Insuring that our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are properly installed, accessible, and inspected lowers the threat of fire.

Deborah Oropallo, Untitled (from the Under Fire series), 2002. Collection of Museum of Glass

Deborah Oropallo, Untitled (from the Under Fire series), 2002. Collection of Museum of Glass

Careful storage of flammable chemicals in specially designed cabinets, like this one, isolates them away from the artwork we have on display and in storage.

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Leaks and Floods

Much like your own home, damage from rising groundwater or from broken plumbing is a risk to our collection. Undetected or remedied leaks or floods will result in water damage of objects, and could lead to mold, another thread to the collection.

Martin Blank, Fluent Steps, 2008. Extra care is taken to monitor the effects of the climate on this outdoor sculpture at the Museum. Our Curatorial staff works with engineers and conservators who are specially trained in this material.

Martin Blank, Fluent Steps, 2008. Extra care is taken to monitor the effects of the climate on this outdoor sculpture at the Museum. Our Curatorial staff works with engineers and conservators, who are specially trained in this material.

We monitor the building for any leaks and keep a fully-stocked set of disaster response supplies at hand.

You can build your own emergency kit for flooding and leaks, or purchase vendor pre-made kit like this one from University Products - http://www.universityproducts.com/cart.php?m=product_list&c=166

You can build your own emergency kit for flooding and leaks or purchase vendor pre-made kit like this one from University Products – http://www.universityproducts.com/cart.php?m=product_list&c=166

Covered display vitrines and storage shelving adds a layer of protection from leaks.

Masters of Studio Glass: Richard Meitner - 2009

Masters of Studio Glass: Richard Meitner – 2009

Pests

Pests are another risk that museums try to avoid. At MOG, we do not allow food, drinks, or potted plants in our galleries or storage areas, as these things all attract pests. We also ask that our custodial team stays on top of their housekeeping to deter vermin and insects.

Although most of the artwork at the Museum is glass (and not so tasty to pests), many pieces at the Museum include materials such as paper and wood. These are the organic materials that are easily damaged by pests.

This piece, Vanity, by Joseph Gregory Rossano is an prime example of mixed-media artwork that contains not only glass, but wood and paper that are a food source for many pests. Photo by Duncan Price.

This piece, Vanity, by Joseph Gregory Rossano is an prime example of mixed-media artwork that contains not only glass, but wood and paper that are a food source for many pests. Photo by Duncan Price.

Watch out for pests who would like to dine on the materials in your artwork!

Stay tuned for more on caring for art at MOG!

For more from the Care and Handling of Artwork series, check out:

Rebecca Engelhardt is the Registrar/Collections Manager at Museum of Glass. Her background includes ten years at MOG, plus time at major museums such as Smithsonian Institution and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Care and Handling of Artwork at Museum of Glass: Protection from Thieves and Vandals and Disassociation

By Rebecca Engelhardt, Registrar/Collections Manager

As part of our ongoing series on the care of artwork at Museum of Glass (MOG), this post reviews the methods that we employ for protecting our collections from thieves and vandalism.

When not on view, artwork at MOG is stored in a secure space with limited access.

When not on view, artwork at MOG is stored in a secure space with limited access.

It is always a delicate balance between putting artwork out for visitors to enjoy today and protecting pieces for future visitors to appreciate. This explains the myriad of Plexiglas® vitrines and metal barriers you often encounter in MOG’s galleries: they protect artwork while it is out on display.

Dale Chihuly’s artwork from our exhibition, Origins: Early works by Dale Chihuly, 2009, rests safely inside Plexiglas® vitrines in the gallery.

Dale Chihuly’s artwork from our exhibition, Origins: Early works by Dale Chihuly, 2009, rests safely inside Plexiglas® vitrines in the gallery.

Sometimes it is not possible to fit artwork inside a vitrine, so we use metal railings (stanchions) to encourage visitors to stand back and enjoy.

Sometimes it is not possible to fit artwork inside a vitrine, so we use metal railings (stanchions) to encourage visitors to stand back and enjoy.

Lots of artwork comes in and out of MOG for our exhibitions and storage in our Permanent Collection. Each of these objects is logged into our database and tracked as it makes its journey.

Screen shot from MOG’s The Museum System database.

Screen shot from MOG’s The Museum System database.

Goblets from the traveling exhibition Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass are tagged for inventory control prior to deinstallation at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., 2008. This ensures that each piece is packed in the correct box and tracked as it is shipped to the next venue.

Goblets from the traveling exhibition Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass are tagged for inventory control prior to deinstallation at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., 2008. This ensures that each piece is packed in the correct box and tracked as it is shipped to the next venue.

Registrar/Collections Manager completes condition report of work by Fred Wilson from the exhibition Mining Glass. Before pieces of art are packed and shipped, each component is inspected and any concerns or details are noted on the condition report. The process is repeated after the piece has arrived safely at the next location, and ensures that the artwork stays safe.

Registrar/Collections Manager completes condition report of work by Fred Wilson from the exhibition Mining Glass. Before pieces of art are packed and shipped, each component is inspected and any concerns or details are noted on the condition report. The process is repeated after the piece has arrived safely at the next location, and ensures that the artwork stays safe.

The information tracked by the Museum not only forms the historical provenance of the artwork, but is invaluable in the event of a loss or damage that either requires repair by a conservator or filing an insurance claim.

These methods of inventory control also protect against a condition called “disassociation”. Disassociation results from the natural tendency for ordered systems to fall apart over time. Objects in museums which have been separated from their history or meaning have limited historical or cultural value.

For example, the amazing installation Landscape, created by artists Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman in 2008-2010 (now in the Museum’s Permanent Collection) and composed of over 400 individual pieces of glass, could become a pile of scrap glass if it was separated from its inventory control sheet and installation map.

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Or this bowl, which we know is made by Barovier & Toso, one of the oldest Venetian glass families, loses its significance if we don’t retain that information for future generations of museum staff, researchers, and visitors.

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Much like those photographs of mysterious ancestors that find their way into antique shops,if you don’t know their names and the names of their descendants, the photos lose much of their historic value.

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Stay tuned for more posts from MOG’s curatorial team, including protecting art from fire, water, and pests!

Rebecca Engelhardt is the Registrar/Collections Manager at Museum of Glass. Her background includes ten years at MOG, plus time at major museums such as Smithsonian Institution and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Care and Handling of Artwork at Museum of Glass

By Rebecca Engelhardt, Registrar/Collections Manager

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All exhibitions at Museum of Glass (MOG) are supported by the curatorial team. It is our job to make sure the galleries look spectacular for our visitors to enjoy.

In addition to keeping our objects looking beautiful, it is also our job to keep them safe. And as a museum, we are challenged to keep them safe “in perpetuity” (which means forever)!

How do we do that, you ask? Fortunately, we have colleagues throughout the world who study the effects of the environment on a variety of historic and art objects and set out guidelines for their care.

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We use a system of policies and procedures (called “Preventative Conservation”) to combat the effects of all “agents of deterioration”.

Defined by the Canadian Conservation Institute, “The agents of deterioration identify ten primary threats specific to heritage environments and encourage their prevention at the collections level.” The ten agents are: Direct Physical Forces, Thieves and Vandals, Fire, Water, Pests, Pollutants, Light, Incorrect Temperature, Incorrect Relative Humidity, and Dissociation.

So, how do we at MOG go about combating these agents, and how does what we do apply to your own collections at home?

In a series of blog posts, we will share how MOG implements the preventative measures for every one of the agents.

This post is dedicated to “Direct Physical Forces” which includes things like: shock, vibration, abrasion, and gravity. This is a big one for glass!

Since the Museum is seated in the Ring of Fire, our staff is always thinking about how to protect our fragile artifacts from the vibrations potentially caused by earthquakes.

At the same time, we are taking precautions against the rumbling trains rumbling past our building and the possible accidents that might result from a potentially clumsy visitor or while setting up an exhibition.

Objects are at risk from damage every time you handle them.

We use several methods to secure objects to the platforms they are displayed on. One of our favorite materials is a sticky substance called Rhoplex N580™ that aids our team in securing objects of many sizes.

Rhoplex is placed on the bottom of artwork. These sticky dots keep objects from sliding around or falling over.

Rhoplex is placed on the bottom of artwork. These sticky dots keep objects from sliding around or falling over.

For larger objects, or ones that are more at risk of toppling over, we use a latex water based adhesive (it’s a lot like silicone). Once it dries, the adhesive “glues” the artifact down.

Museum of Glass crew member securing segments of work by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, 2002.

Museum of Glass crew member securing segments of work by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, 2002.

For objects that don’t sit flat on the top of the display case, or need a little more security, we call a “mount maker,” a specially trained technician who builds a customized support—usually out of metal—that locks onto the object and generally gets screwed to the display furniture. For really large artifacts, we consult with structural engineers who make sure that we have designed our mounts according to the proper building codes.

When you visit our Museum, or any other, there are always many more objects stored behind-the-scenes that will be used in future exhibitions, or by researchers. We want to keep those objects safe, too. Our storage shelves are very carefully designed to prevent the glass from sliding off the edge as well.

Museum of Glass’ Permanent Collection is safely stored—each with a customized nest in the compact foam-lined shelves.

Museum of Glass’ Permanent Collection is safely stored—each with a customized nest in the compact foam-lined shelves.

Handling artwork is where most accidents can happen. So, at MOG, we are all carefully trained on how to follow a specific set of rules to protect our collections. We use a lot of specially designed equipment as well as some things you might see in your own home.

Transportation to and from the Museum is something we plan very carefully. There are even commercial transportation companies that work exclusively with (or have a special fleet assigned to) fine arts. We also build crates designed to minimize shock and vibration during the journey, which might be as far away as Australia!

Look for our next post about dealing with protection from thieves and vandals!

Rebecca Engelhardt is the Registrar/Collections Manager at Museum of Glass. Her background includes ten years at MOG, plus time at major museums such as Smithsonian Institution and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.