UMFA Awarded Grant for Metals Conservation Project

We have been awarded a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in support of a two-year project to evaluate and rehabilitate objects in our diverse metals collection.

The nearly $100,000 grant will allow Museum staff to ensure the longevity of 798 of the metal objects in our Asian and African collections, some of which are in critical need of remediation.

“This project is an important development in the UMFA’s continuing effort to raise standards of care for and stewardship of our significant collection of artworks from diverse historical periods and media,” says Gretchen Dietrich, UMFA executive director. “Remediation and documentation will make it possible to share the objects more widely with the viewing public, through gallery exhibition and online accessibility, and ensure their long-term health.”

UMFA conservator Robyn Haynie will lead the Metals Collection Remediation Project. Collections staff and a graduate-level conservation intern will survey every metal object to establish baseline information on its condition; digitally document each object and upload these images to the UMFA’s online collections database; and rehouse and stabilize an estimated 200 copper alloy objects in most need of attention. They will also modify current storage, create additional storage solutions and treat and stabilize objects. The team will share its findings among regional colleagues in the museum and conservation fields.

Dancing Shiva (Siva Natarja—King of Dancers), ca. 12-13th CE, bronze, gift of the Christensen Fund, UMFA2001.11.1.

Dancing Shiva (Siva Natarja—King of Dancers), ca. 12-13th CE, bronze,
gift of the Christensen Fund, UMFA2001.11.1.

Copper alloy objects are particularly vulnerable, as they are highly sensitive to moisture in the air. Some of the metal artworks to be addressed in the project appear to show signs of bronze disease, a corrosive condition common in archaeological objects and easily transferable from object to object. The condition can be remedied with treatment and by rehousing works in cases whose interior humidity level can be controlled separately from that of the Museum’s general environment.

Our metals collection is comprised of Asian and African metal artifacts, with examples from China, India, Thailand and Java. Students and faculty from the University—along with researchers and scholars who utilize the UMFA’s collections database—frequently access this collection for research.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The IMLS mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. The Institute’s grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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