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Tuesday, May 30 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Collection Care) Environmental performance assessments of packing cases employed by the J. Paul Getty Museum

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The rise in loans of cultural heritage artifacts between institutions has increased their exposure to the transportation environment. Though the duration of travel for a loaned artifact is usually brief and the artifact is buffered from the exterior environment by its packing case, the potential exists for exposure of the artifact to temperature and relative humidity conditions far exceeding the range designated by loan agreements, or episodes of shock and vibration among the greatest encountered in an artifact's lifetime. These environmental conditions may cause physical responses such as material expansion or contraction or impact from an extreme force that can damage an artifact. The Managing Collection Environments (MCE) initiative at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) largely focuses on the control and management of collection environments in museums. However, an object's transient period between venues represents an extension of the museum environment and, as such, research into the transportation environment is included in the MCE initiative. Art packing and transportation has previously been an area of study, highlighted by the seminal Art in Transit conference in 1991, and this work has been instrumental in raising the level of packing worldwide. With the continued development of packing techniques and sensor technology, particularly with respect to shock and vibration, it is an opportune time to reassess the performance of packing cases currently in use. Though the majority of museums depend on assistance from outside consultants to pack museum artifacts for transport, large museums typically have experienced preparations staff with access to a range of suitable packing materials. The Preparations department at the J. Paul Getty Museum (JPGM) has earned a reputation for employing high quality cases for the transport of loaned artifacts. They regularly use a double crate packing technique, particularly for three-dimensional pieces and panel paintings. In addition to cushioning foams common in the packing industry, Getty preparators also employ custom-designed Sorbothane rings that protect an artifact by absorbing shock and isolating and dampening vibration. Despite the prominent standing of the JPGM's Preparations department, a systematic assessment of the environmental performance of its cases has been lacking. Working alongside the Preparations team, as well as with the various conservation departments at the JPGM, the GCI's MCE initiative has conducted numerous in situ studies examining temperature, relative humidity, shock, and vibration conditions for a range of packing cases used by the JPGM to transport artifacts. Monitoring multiple packaged artifacts or mockups during the same transit also provided an opportunity to directly compare case performances when subject to identical environmental input conditions. While the bulk of monitoring occurred during ground or air transits, special attention was given to the so-called "first mile/last mile” transitions, as handling of packaged artifacts at either venue or at intermediate junctions is often thought to pose added risk of damage. It is envisioned that this environmental assessment protocol may be applied to assess transport cases used by other cultural heritage institutions, particularly those which are commercially available.

avatar for Vincent L. Beltran

Vincent L. Beltran

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Vincent Beltran joined GCI Science in 2002. He has been an active participant in a range of research projects including the mechanical characterization of historic materials, the effect of reduced oxygen environments on color change, evaluations of packing case performance during... Read More →

avatar for Rita Gomez

Rita Gomez

Lead Preparator, J. Paul Getty Museum
Rita Gomez is a Lead Preparator at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Specializing in packing and crating since 1986, she has developed the packing systems in use at the Getty today. Rita has lent her expertise to many projects including developing packing techniques for Tutankhamen’s Tomb... Read More →
avatar for Kevin Marshall

Kevin Marshall

Head of Preparations, J. Paul Getty Museum
Kevin Marshall is Head of the Preparations Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. From 1995-2004 Kevin was the Lead Preparator for the pack, move, and installation of the permanent collections at the Getty Center. Between 2005 -2010 he was the Lead Preparator at the renovated Getty... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Plaza Ballroom Lobby Level, East Tower

Attendees (158)