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Tag: Hero’s Journey

Proper Care for Collections Include Conservation

In preparation for the exhibition The Hero’s Journey: Selections from the Permanent Collection, the Beach Museum sent three prints to a studio in Kansas City for conservation assessment and treatment. We sent one of our two impressions of John Steuart Curry’s John Brown (2003.223), Gen. George Washington, The Father of His Country (1997.50) by James S. Baillie, and Cinderella (1966.3) by Jules Pascin. It is important to ensure prints are in good condition before they are hung for exhibition for the prints own safety and to give the viewer the best experience possible. As paper ages, the acids in it cause it to brown when exposed to light over time, which is called light staining. As the paper darkens the ink remains the same which causes the contrast originally created by the artist to lessen. This makes the print dull and less striking to museum visitors.

Before conservation
Before conservation

Paper can also be burnt by acidic mat board and adhesives, become soiled from dirt in the air, stained by water or other liquids, and have mold or mildew growing on the paper. Our three prints were darkened slightly by light exposure over many years though they had other concerns as well. George Washington had stains from dirty water and as a side effect of the moisture the print had mold growth, which looked like little brown dots all over the paper. The conservator ensured the mold growth would not spread and whitened the paper. Similarly the John Brown was whitened and spot treatments were done to remove adhesive residue and reduce the discoloration left behind from tape stuck to the paper.

After Conservation
After Conservation

The Cinderella was a bit of a different case. It was slightly light stained, but the much larger issue with this print was the way it was matted. Today museums hinge the work into archival mats using Japanese paper and wheat paste to bring as little acid as possible in contact with the paper. While all mats consist of a front window mat and a backing mat, this print was sandwiched between the two mats that were then glued together, locking the print between them. The conservator gently dissolved the adhesive to free the print from the two mats. Once free, the museum could then mat it properly, but the glue left behind stains on the paper that cannot be fully removed.

Now back at the museum, all of these prints will be matted and framed for exhibition by the museum’s Exhibitions team. As a result of the whitening treatment, the prints have higher contrast and in the case of the George Washington, vivid colors. They will also be better able to withstand the climate and light conditions inside the gallery. When they come down from exhibition they will be unframed and remain inside their mats in archival storage boxes away from the light. Conservation treatments are a crucial part of a museum taking proper care of their collections.

This post was written by the Beach Museum of Art’s Assistant Registrar Theresa Ketterer.

Image Credit:

James S. Baillie

Gen. George Washington. The Father of His Country, ca. 1840

Lithograph with handcoloring on paper

KSU, Beach Museum of Art, acquisition made possible with funds provided by Barbara Wilson and Joann & Jack Goldstein


Hero’s Journey

This essay was written by Kathrine Schlageck, Senior Educator at the Beach Museum of Art. Schlageck annually curates the summer exhibition presented in collaboration with the Kansas Library Association and the Manhattan Public Library summer reading programs. This exhibition will be on display at the Beach Museum of Art June 2 – July 26, 2015.

The stories of heroes have inspired humankind for centuries.  Explore the myths, legends, fairy tales and true stories of heroes and heroines as you journey to find a personal answer to the question, “What is a hero?”

The dictionary defines a hero as a person of courage and ability, admired for his/her brave deeds and noble qualities. These qualities include self-sacrifice, compassion, honor, and fortitude.  The stories of heroes and heroines remind us that amazing things are possible if we persevere through obstacles, draw on our strength of character, and work with others.  Although often the stuff of myths and legends, several of the works also convey that real heroes are regular humans who have acted with courage and goodness.

Joseph Campbell outlines the journey of a hero, a universal motif of transformation and adventure in cultures worldwide, in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The hero or heroine begins in the ordinary world and is called to adventure.  Often he/she first refuses the call out of fear, but with the help of a mentor and/or special gifts, crosses the threshold to the adventure.  The hero/heroine discovers enemies and allies and passes test before going through a major challenge and receiving the reward.  Finally, there is a journey home, with a final test in which the hero/heroine is transformed and then returns to change the world or solve the problem which started the journey.  The story of Theseus slaying the Minotaur is a perfect example and is represented in the exhibition with a print by Chris Ritter.

This exhibition has been co-curated by Manhattan High School sophomore Emma Kellogg.  Emma is a graduate of the museum’s ARTSmart program.  She began volunteering as classroom assistant in the Education Department during the summer of 2014.  Emma has continued to help with classes and work on “The Hero’s Journey” after school.

To find information on additional exhibitions or programs at the Beach, please check our website.

James S. Baillie Gen. George Washington. The Father of His Country
James S. Baillie
Gen. George Washington. The Father of His Country