Marion Mecklenburg

Marion Mecklenburg
Smithsonian Institution ·  Museum Conservation Institute

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66
Publications
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1,211
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Publications

Publications (66)
Article
Full-text available
Mechanical damage in oil paintings on canvas show up as cracks and loss of original paint. Several parameters can contribute to this type of degradation. These paintings have a complex layered structure, typically composed of minimum four or more hygroscopic materials, each of which has different (non-linear) material properties and geometrical com...
Article
Full-text available
Paintings experience chemical, mechanical and biological damage over time. Whereas chemical and biological alterations have been widely studied in the recent decades, the study of the mechanical behaviour of painted structures deserves more attention. Damage to paintings (such as cracks, flaking paints or delaminations) has been traditionally assoc...
Article
Full-text available
The drying shrinkage accumulation from exposure of freshly prepared gesso layers to relative humidity (RH) cycles was determined to elucidate the mechanism of craquelure pattern formation on panel paintings. The progresive drying shrinkage of the gesso is observed only under the cycles going to high RH levels which bring about transitions from brit...
Article
Full-text available
Maintaining a stable environment is critical to long-term preservation of museum collections. The objective of this project was to determine how well storage cabinets buffer conditions in an environment with highly fluctuating relative humidity and temperature. Storage cabinets in the Insect Collection housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Nation...
Chapter
Full-text available
A multitechnique approach was applied to two types of commercial paints, Liquitex (acrylic) and Flashe (polyvinyl acetate) to evaluate cleaning treatments carried out with water and a selection of organic solvents having different polarities. The analysis included weight loss and water absorption-desorption tests; yrolysis–gas chromatography–mass s...
Article
Full-text available
The present volume brings together the papers and posters presented at the “Cleaning 2010 International—New Insights into the Cleaning of Paintings” conference that was held at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in Spain, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. This was the first major international conference on...
Article
Micro-fading spectrometry is a technique that combines visible reflectance spectroscopy and accelerated light aging testing. Therefore, it is a useful tool for determining the light-stability of dyes applied on textile substrates in a relatively short amount of time. Traditional accelerated light aging methods usually require controlling many varia...
Article
Light fastness tests conducted on several areas of a light‐sensitive material may sometimes show inconsistent fading rates. These different fading behaviours suggest that colorants are not evenly distributed over the substrate surface or may be attributed to texture variations of the material. A mathematical model has been developed to help explain...
Article
The use of inert gases for displaying sensitive objects and for the treatment of artifacts infected with bio-deteriorating agents is a current practice in many cultural institutions around the world. However, some artifacts may also experience color changes as a result of exposure to light in these reducing environments. Therefore, it becomes essen...
Article
This paper presents the results of a light levels survey conducted at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in Washington DC. The museum space is shared by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. After six years of extensive renovations, the building reopened to the public in July 1, 2006. The...
Article
Accurate estimates of cumulative light exposure are an important prerequisite for the assessment and limitation of photochemical damage to museum objects on display The task is complicated because spotlights used to highlight particular features illuminate objects' surfaces unevenly and also because indirect light sources, for example diffuse sunli...
Article
It is frequently assumed that sensitive museum materials follow the reciprocity principle of light exposures. Thus, equivalent exposure doses obtained by using either high-illuminance levels for short periods of time or lower illumination for longer exhibition periods are believed to cause similar degrees of damage to an object. Microfading spectro...
Article
This study investigates the conservation treatment options to preserve the treasured Smithsonian collection of letterpress copying books handwritten by Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823–1887), the second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. This study employs analytical techniques to investigate the complex nature of the materials, explores and ev...
Article
As linseed oil ages, hydrolysis and oxidation produce acid groups on the polymer chain that may lead to ionomeric behavior. The effect of these changes is difficult to determine in old paints because of the lack of records of environmental and treatment histories that can alter the physical properties significantly. A series of paints were made tha...
Article
The possibility of using air-coupled ultrasound to find delaminations between layers in paintings was investigated. Simulations of modern paintings were constructed with hardboard as the support layer, and a layer of gesso, an animal hide glue and chalk, as the upper layer. Delaminations were introduced between the two layers. Scanning the samples...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses the kinetics of aging and its implications for the evaluation of changes in the aging process, especially as applied to accelerated aging. The problem of comparing accelerated aging conditions is shown to be separate from that of evaluating changes occurring under one specific set of conditions. Thus tests and measurements that...
Article
A recent visual survey of Abstract Expressionist-era paintings in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG), Smithsonian Institution revealed a particular type of paint layer separation. Earlier work by the authors showed that zinc oxide in oil paint is a contributing factor to the problem. Ten samples from five Abstract Ex...
Article
The mechanical properties of strength, modulus, and elongation to break were studied for artists' acrylic and alkyd paints under varying conditions of temperature and relative humidity (RH). In the ambient environment, 23° C, 50% RH, acrylic paints are very flexible and are able to sustain large deformations (>50%). Alkyd paints are much stiffer an...
Article
Much of the damage found in cultural and artistic objects is not chemical in nature but results from mechanical responses to stimuli such as changes in temperature, relative humidity, impact, and vibration. Analytical tools of engineering mechanics are available that allow us both to diagnose existing problems as well as to predict the effects of f...
Article
Full-text available
A finite element analysis was performed on panel painting structures subjected to changes in relative humidity. Measured Young's modulus values and humidity expansion coefficients were used to define the properties of materials characteristic to northern and southern European panels. Models of northern panels simulated white oak with two layers of...
Article
This study examines the methods for determining the effects of temperature and relative humidity (RH) on the dimensional and mechanical properties of artists' materials. Using both of these properties, typical cultural objects, such as paintings and photographs can be modeled on the computer to correlate the magnitude of developed stresses to envir...
Article
A series of light-fastness tests were conducted on a group of ethnographic objects that will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies Center, a recent addition to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center in Alaska. The objects surveyed belong to the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithson...
Article
Full-text available
This work proposes a multi-method approach that combines advanced microscopy (SEM/EDX, AFM) and spectroscopy (UV-vis and FTIR) techniques. This approach not only characterises the behaviour of the additives of two commercial poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc) and acrylic emulsion paints but also simultaneously characterises the changes in chemical composit...
Article
The presence of zinc oxide oil paint and the condition problems observed in a group of paintings from the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden prompted analytical examination of the museum's mid-20th century holdings. Results reveal a link between upper layer deterioration and underlying zinc oxide paint layers, and suggest that...
Article
Commercial poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc) paint formulations for artists include a number of compounds in addition to the PVAc polymer and pigments to improve the physical and chemical properties of the resulting product. Among the most common additives are surfactants, coalescing agents, defoamers, freeze–thaw agents and thickeners. These products sig...
Article
The use of plasticizers in emulsion paints is intended to provide optimal mechanical properties to polyvinyl acetate polymers (PVA), making them suitable as binding media for paintings. The loss of these properties with ageing is often related to the slow migration and evaporation of such plasticizers, resulting in severe embrittlement and potentia...
Article
Because of cold climates and minimal insulation in the walls of many buildings, the inside surfaces of exterior walls reach the dew point. Very high humidity levels and even condensation can occur on these surfaces. On hot summer days these same walls can reach elevated temperatures where the relative humidity near the interior surface can drop to...
Article
Oil paints dry by polymerization. This 'drying' process may be substantially complete and the surface of the paint film dry to the touch within weeks, but measurable changes continue for years. Other, slower processes also continue, primarily hydrolysis of glyceride esters. This produces carboxylic acid groups as either free fatty acids (in the cas...
Article
Lead compounds or pigments alter the drying behavior and physical properties of oil paints and varnishes, enabling artists and craftsmen to tailor the properties most suited for their purposes. Investigations into the mechanism of these changes have, however, often been contradictory or misleading. Using modern theories of driers, the behavior of l...
Article
Full-text available
The stiffening and embrittlement of oil paints over time has been a real concern for those responsible for the long term care and preservation of paintings. This paper examines the effects of time, pigments, relative humidity (RH), temperature and solvents on the mechanical properties of traditional oil paints. In this way it is possible to determi...
Article
Although preserving museum collections is vital, it is equally important to consider the failure mechanisms of the build- ings that house those collections. A combination of research, survey, and experience with high-profile buildings at the Smithsonian Institution has led to broadening the indoor environmental guidelines. The new environmental gui...
Article
—Objects in ethnographic and ancillary natural history collections contain many types of vegetable oils as components of varnish coatings, paints and lubricants. Tests were performed on thin oil films dried in a laboratory environment. These oils, composed of the glycerol esters of unsaturated fatty acids, will oxidize through a free radical proces...
Article
Some of the most important cultural icons in the world are oil paintings. Preserving them for future generations requires a fundamental understanding of the long-term chemical, mechanical, and physical behavior of their components. If the properties are understood, modeling and even predicting the effects of exposure to changes in temperature, rela...
Chapter
The photographic record of the twentieth century is rapidly being lost. The gelatin of the image emulsions is relatively stable, but the silver salts and dyes that form the image, and the principal photographic film bases, cellulose nitrate and cellulose triacetate, have been found to be chemically unstable within the time frame of historical signi...
Chapter
An understanding of the chemical and physical changes that occur in cellulosic materials is crucial to the preservation of many objects in museums and archives. Decisions regarding care, treatment, and appropriate storage environments are based on their effects on the permanence and condition of the objects. Because many of the changes that occur i...
Article
The chemical and physical state of naturally aged samples of oil paint were examined. Results were compared to those for samples of oil paint subjected to various conditions of accelerated aging. As a result, it was possible to account for the thermal aging at different relative humidities.
Article
Processes that occur in oil paints after the initial drying stage include the hydrolysis of glyceride ester linkages, the formation of soaps, and the volatilization of low molecular weight compounds. The nature, amounts and distribution of the soluble components of paint films serve as indicators of the relative rates and extent of these processes....
Article
Conservare OH, an ethyl silicate solution, has been used for consolidation of ancient lime plaster fragments to enable reassembly of five large statues. The success of treatment was verified by modulus of rupture testing which demonstrated over 300% increase in strength. When viewed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM), the consolidant closely...
Article
The mechanical response of objects having a complex composite structure can be accurately modeled if the material properties of the individual components are characterized using the approach briefly described in this paper. The three dimensional surface of the equilibrium stress-strain state and the methods required for its determination were the s...
Article
Air-coupled ultrasound, a noncontact, nondestructive testing technique, has detected splits, checks, delaminations, cleavage, and voids in various materials. The system has inspected highly anisotropic and inhomogeneous materials such as wood and wood products, with surfaces layers of gesso, gesso and linen, paper, and wood veneer. Two paintings we...
Article
The structural degradation effects of temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH) are important considerations in the setting and maintaining of museum environments. An approach to determining the acceptable values for this environment would be useful if a general model could be developed from simple physical (mechanical) measurements. In this paper...
Article
Wood is common as a structural material throughout Art and Archaeological collections. While there is a considerable amount of information on the behavior of wood in the longitudinal direction, failure is often perpendicular to the grain direction. This study concentrated on the cross-grained mechanical behavior of several woods and their response...
Article
The environmental effects of temperature and relative humidity on the mechanical response of paintings and photographs were examined using numerical methods and computer analysis. The basic mathematical approach is introduced that defines the material parameters necessary to conduct such an analysis. Methods of determining the material and dimensio...
Chapter
It has been established that the risk of damage to paintings on wood (“panel paintings”) increases with the presence of cracks, delaminations, and their associated stress concentrations. Such flaws can originate and increase in size as a result of fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity, as well as shock and vibration. Many internal flaws...
Article
The determination of an optimal value of relative humidity for the preservation of museum objects is more complex than for other environmental factors. Relative humidity affects the preservation of objects in many ways, and effects vary for different types of object. Relative humidity affects the rates of chemical reactions, and the values of physi...
Article
Full-text available
Modern transparent papers, also known as tracing papers, require specific chemical and physical properties, such as translucency, smoothness, and whiteness, which are produced by specially formulated compositions and manufacturing procedures. Ironically, these special formulations may in some ways render such papers susceptible to problems from dam...
Article
The use of adhesive bonding for airframes and other engineering structures offers significant advantages over the commonly used mechanical fasteners. However, not all adhesives are able to withstand the environmental extremes encountered by a structure over its service lifetime. Therefore, the selection of an adhesive for bonding these structures m...
Chapter
Various nondestructive methods for determining the condition of wooden panel paintings have been investigated. Methods are being developed to detect voids, hidden cracks, and fine fractures that are often a source of premature failure in such objects. Computer analysis shows that cracks in wood promote severe stress concentrations which are aggrava...
Article
We have evaluated the environmental and mechanical responses of several epoxy adhesive specimens concurrently by straining the specimens to failure at predetermined strain increments in an environmentally controlled chamber. The adhesives stress-relax under the quasi-fixed displacements. Correlation is excellent between the equilibrium stress-strai...
Article
—Due to its chemistry, no structural adhesive system (epoxies, acrylics, etc.) is likely to offer an ideal combination of toughness, strength, moisture resistance, and ambient-temperature curing. Therefore, for effective use of adhesives in primary structures, an engineer must be able to identify adhesives that represent an optimum compromise among...
Article
Many current practices in conservation and restoration are performed without adequate knowledge or consideration of the mechanical stresses they induce; otherwise treatments can aggravate deterioration and cause damage to the paint layer. If realistic data are available, the finite element model is capable of predicting the magnitude and distributi...
Article
The fabrication and use of aluminum honeycomb core solid support panels for paintings on fabric are described, using standard materials and laboratory equipment. Techniques of mounting paintings to such all-aluminum solid supports employing the vacuum hot table and both wax/resin and thermoplastic adhesives are discussed. Alternative methods of pan...

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