By Timothy P. Whalen
With this edition, the Getty Conservation Institute's newsletter—which first appeared in 1986—takes another step in its evolution. Now called Conservation Perspectives, The GCI Newsletter, the publication has been both renamed and redesigned. These changes are the result, in part, of an extensive evaluation of the newsletter conducted last year, which included interviews with conservation professionals and a survey of the newsletter's readership (we are grateful to the hundreds of subscribers who generously provided us with feedback). We hope that Conservation Perspectives, in look and content, will further our readers' understanding of the work of the GCI by providing a more in-depth view of our current projects and programs, as well as by offering articles that seek to increase awareness of challenges and advances in the field of conservation. As part of our effort to enhance content, we have added a new section to the publication that provides information on key resources related to the particular theme of each newsletter.
In this inaugural edition of Conservation Perspectives, we are focusing on the conservation of modern and contemporary works of art, an important area of research for the Institute and one that in recent years has been consistently flagged by many in the field as a priority. The GCI began its own work in this area in 2002 with research into the identification and cleaning of modern paint materials. Since then, GCI activity in the conservation of modern and contemporary art has expanded to include a new research initiative in the preservation of plastics—including working as a partner in the European Community-funded project POPART (Preservation of Plastic Artefacts in Museum Collections). The GCI is also involved in studies on the conservation of outdoor painted surfaces, which have the ultimate objective of improving protection of outdoor painted works of art from ultraviolet radiation and graffiti. As part of its continuing research on modern paints, GCI has partnered with Tate in London and Dow Chemical Company to identify additional cleaning materials and techniques for artists' acrylic emulsion paints.
In all these efforts, the GCI is working in a multi- and inter-disciplinary way with partners that offer a variety of skills and expertise. While most areas of conservation would benefit from this approach, many in our profession believe that this type of collaboration is essential for tackling the broad range of conservation issues generated by modern and contemporary works of art.
Several different aspects of our work are described in this newsletter edition, including the scientific study of materials being used by artists, research into the effects of conservation treatments on those materials, the exploration by conservators and curators of some of the complex ethical issues we now confront in conservation, the role of training and education in advancing conservation practice, and new avenues for efficient and effective dissemination and information sharing.
The core of the GCI's mission is to advance the practice of conservation in the visual arts. The publication of Conservation Perspectives—and the examination of important issues in conservation that it offers—is one of the ways in which we seek to fulfill that mission.