Every other week we’ll be posting information about pieces in the Beach Museum’s permanent collection from …to build up a rich collection.. Selected works from The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.
All pieces in this series are on display now at the museum. We hope you will join in the discussion and enjoy learning in-depth about the heart of the museum, our permanent collection. Beginning with one of the pieces that welcome you to the Beach Museum, Chandelier by Dale Chihuly. What does this piece make you wonder?
Dale Chihuly, born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, is considered on of the world’s foremost artists working in glass. Chihuly has become famous for liberating glassblowing from the confines of craft and placing it firmly in the sphere of fine art.1 In 1992 he made his first chandelier, which was created in conjunction with an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. At Seattle Chihuly become discontent with a vacant space within the exhibition. His solution was to create a hanging sculpture composed of a multitude of glass spheres. The main appeal of this first piece was not primarily derived from the simple shape of the individual components but from the grouping of these elements into a new structure.2The sheer size and volume of this first chandelier is only half of its attraction. The uniform and vibrant color makes the piece even more dramatic. This first chandelier led to a series of hanging pieces that are now considered among Chihuly’s signature forms.
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.
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.
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.
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
March 12, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Drip Torch poetry reading & David Wood vocal performance
April 9, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m. KSU Theater and Dance student performances.
The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art furthers the teaching, research, and service missions of Kansas State University by collecting, studying, caring for, and presenting the visual art of Kansas and the region.