Mazarin Chest, detail of interior lid
The following are highlights from twenty years of Getty Foundation grants for the conservation of significant artworks and museum collections. Currently, conservation grants are offered through strategic initiatives such as the Panel Paintings Initiative.


 
Mazarin Chest
Getty supported led to the Victoria and Albert Museum's ground breaking preservation of the Mazarin Chest, one of the finest examples of seventeenth-century Japanese export lacquer. The chest had suffered from centuries of exposure to light and humidity, and a Foundation grant allowed a team of Japanese and British conservators to develop an innovative treatment that integrated traditional Japanese methods with modern Western conservation practices. The approach holds great promise for the treatment of similar objects and was widely disseminated to the field through publications and an international symposium. The project was also featured in a 2008 exhibition at the Getty Museum, Tales in Sprinkled Gold.
Grants awarded:£84,000 (2004) and £38,000 (2008)


 
Cambodian Bronzes
The Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution received a Getty grant to collaborate with the National Museum of Cambodia on a survey of the museum's outstanding bronze collection and to train Cambodian conservators. The collection consists of nearly 7,000 sculptures, including many from the Angkor period that were abandoned during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. With the help of Freer/Sackler conservators, the Cambodian Museum prepared a long-range strategic plan for the preservation and care of its collections, established its first bronze conservation lab, completed conservation treatments of key works, and improved storage conditions for the collection. The project also lead to a 2011 exhibition featuring a selection of bronzes from the Khmer period (9th to 15th centuries) at the Getty Museum, Gods of Angkor.
Grant awarded: $126,000 (2004)


Antioch Marine Mosaic
 
Antioch Marine Mosaic
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston received a Getty grant to complete conservation research and treatment of the Antioch marine mosaic, a remarkable antique floor tile that had never been displayed or made accessible to the public or scholars due to its instability and poor surface condition. This large mosaic pavement from the third century C.E. was excavated in the 1930s at the site of ancient Antioch, an important port city and cultural center. The work was lifted and given a thick, reinforced concrete backing, a common practice at the time which is now known to lead to surface cracking and rusting of the iron armature. Grant funds supported removal of the harmful concrete, rebacking of the mosaic, surface cleaning, and the restoration of areas previously filled with concrete, all of which took place in a special gallery visible to visitors in order to raise public awareness of the conservation project. Following treatment, the mosaic was installed in the museum's main Roman gallery accompanied by an interactive educational display.
Grant awarded: $160,000 (2003)


Calder's Circus
The Whitney Museum of American Art received a Getty grant for conservation research and treatment related to Alexander Calder's Circus, a kinetic matrix of circus performers, animals, and accessories fashioned primarily of wire over a five year period (1926–31) while the artist was living in Paris. The artist enthusiastically performed the Circus—joyfully maneuvering its clowns, acrobats, and other characters—for children and adults throughout his life. Due to the delicate nature of the work's components, it had become problematic to display the sculpture in its current state. An interdisciplinary team conducted a full survey, including archival research and materials testing, before completing a thorough stabilization and conservation treatment to prepare the work for display in the acclaimed exhibition Alexander Calder: The Paris Years. The conservation project was disseminated widely, including in the exhibition catalogue and through online videos of archival film footage (see example below) and treatment documentation.
Grant awarded: $150,000 (2008)



Top image: Mazarin Chest, detail of the interior lid, artist unknown, ca. 1640. Photo: Victoria & Albert Museum/V&A Images.