CONSERVING MODERN PAINTS
In October 2016 GCI senior scientist Jim Druzik will retire, bringing to a close a career with the Institute that has spanned more than three decades.
Jim came to the GCI in 1985, the same year the Institute's first director was appointed. Prior to joining the GCI, he did a stint at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art), which was followed by a position in the paper conservation department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and then conservation research at LACMA. Prior to and during his tenure at LACMA, he also worked on his first major research project, a study with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that used digital image processing to do textural analysis of paintings, drawings, and bronzes.
Jim's initial major responsibility with the GCI was to coordinate the many outside research contracts of what was then called the Scientific Program. An important collaboration for Jim in this early period was his work with the Materials Research Society. In conjunction with the society's annual conferences, he helped organize five symposia, including a stand-alone 1994 meeting in Cancun, Mexico, concentrating on the materials science aspects of conservation.
As the Institute shifted from external research contracts to an emphasis on internal research conducted in collaboration with other institutions, Jim assumed a leadership role with a number of scientific research projects, many related to preventive conservation. Among those early projects was research into the performance of pollutant adsorbents as a method of increasing the protection of objects placed in display cases or other microenvironments from air pollutants.
In recent years, Jim has managed a series of groundbreaking projects dealing with lighting and the museum environment generally. In a study that began in 2002, he was the principal investigator on microfading research, which sought to establish standard methods for carrying out microfading testing and evaluations. Shortly thereafter, he began a five-year project to develop filters for museum lighting that could reduce damage to light-sensitive objects. This was followed by a multiyear project that developed guidelines for selecting solid-state lighting for museums. Since 2012 Jim has been one of the principal investigators on a major GCI endeavor, the Managing Collection Environments initiative, which addresses a number of compelling research questions and practical issues pertaining to the control and management of collection environments in museums.
A summary of Jim's projects cannot adequately convey the important role he has played in helping shape from the very beginning the scientific work of the Institute. His clear-eyed thinking, expertise, and collegiality have been a highly valued part of the GCI’s multifaceted work, and the significant research he has led has given him a deserved prominence and respect in the conservation field. Earlier this year he was awarded the Robert L. Feller Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Institute for Conservation. It will be a major adjustment for the Institute to move along without him as he heads off to a well-earned retirement.