Restore, Conserve, Preserve.    Art restoration -restoring a damaged work of art so it looks just as it did originally.  Examples of  20th century art restoration: Michelangelo's mural painting on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.  The fresco of the Sistine Ceiling was one of the most significant art restoration projects of the 20th century.  The mural was painted by Michelangelo from 1508-1512. The mural was commissioned by Pope Julius II. The story of this mural was recreated in the 1965 movie The Agony and the Ecstasy (based on the novel by Irving Stone). The movie features Charleton Heston.  You can reserve or obtain the movie at the Public Library.  I usually show the film during lunch in the Fall.  From 1980-1994 the restoration took place.  The cause of damage:
    Water penetrated through the floor above the ceiling-Damaged by saltpere (potassium nitrate) and cracks.  The effect of saltpetre is to leave a white efflorescence (in chemistry "to flower out") is the loss of water (or a solvent) and crystallization by a hydrated or salvated salt.  Another major cause of damage was the effect of 500 years of candle smoke rising to the ceiling.  The mural contains over 300 larger than life figures based on the book of Genesis.  The Art Restoration team: Gianluigi Colalucci, Maurizio Rossi, Riergiorgio Bonetti  used the guidelines: Rules for the restoration of works of art that was established in 1978.  The recording of every stage of the restoration was done by the Japanese photographer Takashi Okamira for Nippon Television Network Corporation based in Japan.  The restoration was unveiled by Pope John Paul II on April 8, 1994.   For indepth information about the restoration, visit Wikipedia.com.  Other works by Michelangelo that were restored.  A deranged man took a hammer to the marble sculpture of The Pieta and broke several parts off (fingers, nose, etc.)  Another person damaged the marble sculpure of The David.  The David which was outside on exhibit for many years is currently housed in the Academia in Florence, Italy. 
    Second Large Scale Restoration Project:     The cave paintings in Lascaux, France-created between 14,000-10,000 B.C. The work included many animals painted on limestone.   This "green disease" was the proliferation of microscopic algae that was caused by humidity due to people crowding the cave to view the art work.  This "green disease" covered all parts of the mural.
    Art restorers had to use solvents to clean the surface to rid the "disease."  Although this
    was a time consuming  and painstaking process, it allows us to hold on to the first visual stories.   
    Upper Paleolithic paintings are estimated to be 17,000 years old.  The paintings in Lascaux, France were discovered on September 12th by four boys.  The cave was opened to the public in 1948. By 1955 the carbon dioxide produced by the 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the painting.  The accumulation of moisure promoted the proliferation of microscopic algae.  The cave was closed to the public in 1963 in order to preserve the cave paintings.  After the cave was closed, the paintings were restored to their original state and were monitored on a daily basis.  Rooms in the cave included the Great hall of the Bulls, a lateral passage, the shaft of the deadman, the chamber of engravings, ans the painted gallery.   Lascaux II, a replica of the two cave halls-the great hall of the bulls and the painted gallery was opened in 1983 200 meters from the original.  This allowed
    visitors to see copies of the originals. 
    There are two major causes of damage to art work:  rapid temperature changes(causes expansion and contraction of plaster-Sistine ceiling) and water damage.
    Many Renaissance drawings by Michelangelo Buonoratti and Leonardo Da Vinci are
    kept in black boxes or when on exhibit dim lighting to prevent the acid in the paper from
    further discoloring the drawing. In the largest Da Vinci drawing exhibit held at the Metropolitan
    Museum of art  in 2002(Community School kids attended this trip) Drawings from the collections of
    Museums and patrons from over 18 countries was on exhibit in a very "dark" gallery.  The
    codex( a series of Da Vinci's drawings) purchased by Bill Gates and on Exhibit is usually stored
    in a black box to prevent exposure to light.   Exposure to light promotes the proliferation of deterioration of the paper and the work on it.
    During the 20th century acid free paper was invented.
    Google Images of Sistine Ceiling.  Google Images of Lascaux & Altamira Cave Paintings.  


Last Modified on June 20, 2011