Speaker: Mary McGinn, Paintings Conservator and Adjunct Associate Professor at Winterthur/University of Deleware
When: June 28, 2012
Where: Damascus Room
THE DAMASCUS ROOM IN CONTEXT: ACQUISITION, FURNISHINGS, CONSERVATION
A colloquium celebrating the opening of Shangri La's Damascus interior to the public on July 7, 2012
Following Shangri La's 2004 symposium, Preserving a Sense of Awe: The History and Conservation of Interiors from Ottoman Damascus, Professor Richard Wolbers initiated a fruitful collaboration between the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Since 2005, Shangri La has hosted twelve WUDPAC students for summer internships. Over the course of three summers, the graduate students documented, assessed and treated the Damascus Room. After two more summers, one of the Syrian Rooms is near completion and the collaboration continues with two interns this summer who will begin work on the smaller Syrian Room. This paper will review the work of the students and faculty on both the Damascus Room and the Syrian Room: condition assessments, technical findings, archival research, digital documentation, treatment methodologies and results. The author will focus on how the transplantation of these complex artifacts from their semi-arid place of origin in the Middle East to the humid environment of the Oahu shore affected their condition, and ultimately, expectations for their presentation and preservation. Decisions about treatment materials and methodologies were based not just on the nature of the original materials, but were influenced by previous restoration campaigns, Doris Duke's vision and the realities of Shangri La's unique museum environment. The paper will also highlight the comprehensive documentation, using Adobe Illustrator, which allows DDFIA to continue monitoring the rooms for condition changes.