Madonna and Child by Romare Beardon goes on loan

Madonna and Child by Romare Howard Bearden 1945 Oil (?) on canvas 38 in. x 30 in. (96.52 cm x 76.2 cm) Gift of Roy R. Neuberger and Marie Salant Neuberger, Class of 1930 (1948.3)

Bryn Mawr College’s painting Madonna and Child by Romare Bearden will be in an upcoming exhibit at the Neuberger Museum of Art open from September 10, 2017 through December 22nd 2017.  For more information about the exhibition see their website: https://www.neuberger.org/

 

 

Crafting and Visualizing Models: Photogrammetry at Bryn Mawr – by Danielle Smotherman Bennett

Cover of the Training Manual

On June 6th-9th, Mark Mudge (President), Carla Schroer (Founder and Director), and Marlin Lum, (Imaging Director) of Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) visited Bryn Mawr College and trained interested recent alumnae, students, faculty, and staff in Photogrammetry for Scientific Documentation of Cultural Heritage through a four-day workshop.  Mark, Carla, and Marlin were a wonderful and welcoming team that made photogrammetry very understandable and accessible to a group with a widely disparate set of skills. CHI is same group responsible for the creation of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a type of computational photography utilizing a movable light source on an unmoving surface with a static camera position that was introduced to the study of objects in Special Collections in 2014. RTI is used presently in Bryn Mawr College’s collections and in many other institutions world-wide. CHI’s training and standards for photogrammetry are another important effort of this group for creating practical methods for digital imaging and preservation that will now be available at Bryn Mawr College.

Model as a mesh showing the position and angles in which photographs used in the model were taken.

For those of you who have not previously encountered photogrammetry, it is a type of computational photography, or digitally captured and processed images, that combines a series of carefully captured images to produce precise 3D surface data. While the technology has been around for awhile, photogrammetry has improved over the years through refined camera technologies and techniques, as well as through improvements in the software. The process is relatively quick, once you know what you are doing, portable, and uses standard photography equipment. All of these factors make it a very accessible technique to an archaeologist such as myself, both for fieldwork as well as for travelling to specific museums and sites in the future. The resulting models can be measured with a high degree of accuracy, even when the subject is not present or even available in the future. Objects may not be accessible to scholars for a variety of reasons, varying from being in a closed museum, located across the country or even the world, as well as for more dire reasons such as if an object has been lost, damaged, or completely destroyed.

Carla lecturing the first day of training

Trainees attending a lecture

Camera set up and Mark showing Zach Silvia, Sarah Luckey, and Del Ramers how to adjust the settings through the laptop

The trainees at this four-day workshop included individuals from collections management, librarians, digital scholarship specialists, anthropologists, and archaeologists, as well as others who joined for specific lectures. In particular, many of us were interested in the use of photogrammetry for the study of artifacts, architecture, sondages, and even bones, to create models. These scaled models can be used to measure features of these objects, to accurately record condition, to allow for more direct comparisons between scaled models of objects, as well as to serve as a digital archive for the future. As an archaeologist who studies Greek vases, objects which are spread out in museums and private collections around the world, can be sold and moved, lost, or broken, and often have limited angles in published photographs, it was very important for me to learn to create accurate models and to understand how to identify the inaccuracies I encounter in models as part of this training.

Casey Barrier getting photographs of the bottom of a vessel

The training divided into lectures and practical lessons, which consisted of both camera shoots and computer processing of the images. The practical lessons featured us breaking up into groups, so that everyone could get hands-on experience. Most of the training took place in the Carpenter Library, with excursions around campus to shoot particular objects as the subjects of our practical lessons. These objects include the two casts of reliefs and books in Carpenter Library, a plaque and marble sarcophagus in Thomas Cloisters, two vases in Special Collections, and the marble bench outside of Dalton. The diversity of subject objects provided us with experience in capturing images for photogrammetry in a variety of settings and with objects of varied scale that each required their own problem-solving.

Carla showing trainees (Caroline Vansickle, Sarah Luckey, Marianne Weldon, Zach Silvia, and Danielle Smotherman Bennett) how to adjust camera settings before a large project

Those of us who own personal Digital SLR cameras learned how to capture images for photogrammetry on our own cameras, but others used the cameras owned by CHI or Bryn Mawr College. The other equipment we used included a remote switch, remote flash(es), a monopod, a tripod, color card, scale bars, and a turntable, although not all of that was required for every shoot. For instance, at times we could use the ambient lighting, especially outdoors, but other times we needed to use flash or two in order to create an even illumination over the object surface. Similarly, we could only use the turntables occasional since a turntable is only practical for small, movable, and light-weight objects. Occasionally we used other materials, such as when we had to find make-shift back drops to cover reflective backgrounds, or use white foam board to reflect light.

Mark observing the creation of a model by one team (pictured: Matthew Jameson, Camilla MacKay, Del Ramers and Alicia Peaker)

After pre-processing the images through Adobe Bridge, we produced models through the use of Agisoft Photoscan Professional and the very capable Visual Resources computers. The resulting models and data can be shared with scholars around the world through as the models themselves through photogrammetry software, but also as 3D PDFs, which can be viewed in many PDF viewers. Thus, along with being a method of digital archiving of these objects, photogrammetry models can also provide more accessibility to collections.

Along with learning about how to capture and create accurate photogrammetry models, Mark, Carla, and Marlin also taught us about creating and sending verifiable data with our models. One aspect of this is generating a report within the photogrammetry software itself that contains information as to the camera information, number of images, camera locations, camera calibration, scale, error, and processing procedure and time. Another aspect is the importance of recording the process in a Digital Lab Notebook, which can be sent along with the data itself and the report to scholars looking at or using the model. This recording process includes not only the camera specifications, which are already included in the report, or only the subject of the project, but also who was involved, what equipment was used along with the camera, where and when the images were captured, and other possibly significant information.

Through the very capable training we received, we can now share the methodology that we have learned with others in the community. We can also apply the methodology and use the resulting photogrammetry models to our own research. Photogrammetry for scientific documentation has many implications for the future study of objects and architecture, in which Bryn Mawr College can now take part.

 

De-Installation of Presidential Portraits in Thomas Great Hall

IMG_8558(1) IMG_8550The presidential portraits that hang in Thomas Great Hall were de-installed today to protect them during repair work on the building’s roof. Professional art-handlers were hired to take the paintings down, to pack them, and then transport them off campus to climate-controlled art storage. The portraits will return in November of 2016.

More information about the portraits can be found here: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/PRT537IMG_8578

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Bryn Mawr College Lends Artwork to Mary Cassatt Retrospective in Japan

marycassattTwo of Bryn Mawr College’s prized Mary Cassatt prints are now on view in Yokohama, Japan. The artist’s retrospective at the Yokohama Museum of Art includes 80 works, many of which are on loan from museums all over the world. The exhibition travels to a second venue, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in September.

Bryn Mawr has loaned Afternoon Tea Party and Woman Bathing (see below). Both are part of a series of ten color prints exploring the domestic activities and roles of women in the nineteenth century. Cassatt translated her admiration of Japanese ukiyo-e prints into this series, all ten of which are included in the current retrospective.

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Bryn Mawr’s Collections Manager, Marianne Weldon, couriered the prints to Japan, ensuring their safe arrival. The crate had to be inspected in Philadelphia by TSA, after which point it was never left alone.  Either Marianne, or a US Customs-assigned security agent, was with the works of art as they traveled first from Philadelphia to JFK airport, where they were placed on a pallet with works from other institutions, and then onto Tokyo, Japan.

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Once in Tokyo the works were transported by truck to the Yokohama Museum of Art (along with couriers from the represented institutions) to await Japanese Customs Agents, who authorized opening the crate for installation.

 

 

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As you can see, the prints have arrived safely and are a wonderful addition to the exhibition.

For more information about the exhibition, visit:
http://yokohama.art.museum/eng/exhibition/index/20160625-466.html

X-Radiographs of a Mummified Crocodile

Mummified Crocodile

ca. 1550 BCE – 600 CE
Linen and faunal remains
12 11/16 in. x 1 3/16 in. x 7/8 in. (32.3 cm x 3 cm x 2.2 cm)
Gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
24225
Geography: Africa, Egypt
Classification: Raw Materials and Organic Remains; Organic Remains

Today our mummified crocodile, #24225 was x-rayed to help verify that the skeletal structure was in fact that of a crocodile and not some other type of lizard.

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The x-radiographs created will become part of the object’s permanent record.

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Behind the Scenes: Conservation of Artifacts at The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Last semester six objects from the Bryn Mawr College Art and Artifact collections were sent to The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University for conservation treatment. Over the course of the fall semester, students in the conservation program researched, cleaned, and repaired these objects. The objects were in need of varying treatments including re-treatment where old repair methods were causing new damage and repair to broken elements that were not structurally stable.

Several of the items were constructed of fragile or organic materials that had naturally begun to deteriorate or change over time, such as the fragile cotton and wool threads used in a pair of North American Ojibwe Beaded Garters.

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Before Treatment

 

Documentation indicating areas of damage.

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After Treatment

The deterioration of the threads was causing the garter to unravel and resulting in bead loss. The conservator reinforced the garter by weaving polyester threads into the unstable sections and reattaching the loose beads and surface cleaned the beadwork.

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Basket Interior Before Treatment

The plant fibers that were woven to create a North American Tlingit berrying basket had also become brittle and broken in several places. In addition, the basket had several older repairs that were contributing to the damage.

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Before Treatment Detail

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After Treatment Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before Treatment

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After Treatment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the older repairs were deteriorating, distorting the shape of the basket, and visually distracting, they were removed and the basket was surface cleaned. The conservator was able to fill in the gaps and fix small splits to replace the older repairs and ensure that the basket would be more structurally sound.

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Before Treatment

Repairs to the fragile pieces of a small ivory sculpture depicting rabbits bringing rice dumplings to the rabbit in the moon also needed to be replaced. An older repair had left a visually distracting residue and was no longer stable. Thus, the conservator removed the older adhesive, surface cleaned the entire sculpture and reattached the rabbits and oar with a less obtrusive and more effective material.

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After Treatment

Several of the objects bore evidence of use and were in need of repair. The gourd and wood structure of a Japanese gourd-shaped box had cracked in several places, which caused the lacquer and gold sheet inlay decoration to flake off. These damages may be explained by use and possibly an incident resulting in impact. Animal hide glue, acrylic resins, and balsa wood were used to repair cracks and losses in the gourd and wooden structure. The conservator then used a variety of acrylic resins, copolymers, and putties to stabilize the lacquer surface.

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Before Treatment

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After Treatment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Peruvian (possibly Ica) feathered mosaic miniature dress fragment bore evidence of its deposition circumstances. The fabric was buried alongside another fabric piece with silver medallions, and several medallions transferred during that contact. In addition, the delicate nature of the feathers that constitute the decoration of the garment also necessitated treatment. Although the silver medallions were not part of the original garment, they are important evidence of the context, history and use of the artifact. Thus they were stabilized and retained. The feathers were brushed into alignment and loose feathers were reattached.

Treatment Object 2

After Treatment

A North American Inupiaq drawstring bag made of fish skin was very brittle and fragile from age and had been flattened in storage, losing its original shape, in addition to having many, tears, and losses. The bag was carefully reshaped using gentle humidification and slowly expanding it into its original shape.  Before and during this process the bag was also surface cleaned.

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After Treatment

 

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Before Treatment

The conservator treating this bag created a time-lapse video of her repair work: (see link below)

www.viddler.com/v/b2b56d65

We wish to thank the graduate conservation students at The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Emily Frank, Rebecca Gridley, and Bermet Nishanova, as well as their professor, conservator Samantha Alderson, and Manager, Laboratories and Study Collection Catherine A. Lukaszewski for working on these artifacts to help preserve them for future generations.

 

Lab 5: pXRF

On December 4th, for our final lab session, Dr. Anthony Lagalante, from Villanova University presented a lecture and lab session on utilizing a portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer.

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Dr. Lagalante demonstrating the spectrum capture software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable XRF units are commonly used to help non-destructively identify the surface elemental composition of metal alloys, pigments and other fine art and archaeological artifacts.  The data is generally qualitative when used in a non-destructive manner.

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Analyzing pigment on an Egyptian polychromed wood sarcophagus fragment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students were able to operate the instrument and the computer during the data capture and looked at a variety of object types including; Roman coins, polychromed Egyptian materials, and Greek pottery.

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Determining where to take a spectrum on a polychromed terracotta Ushabti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Analysis of differences in the surface composition in Attic pottery between the black-glaze and clay body.

Lab 4: Microchemical and Related Testing

For week 4, the class focused on different tests to identify materials.

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Marianne administers a lead spot test.

First, Marianne demonstrated different spot tests and micro-chemical tests that can be applied to identify or to ascertain the presence of certain materials in or on an object. One test determined whether chlorides were present in pottery. Marianne combined silver nitrate, deionized water, and pulverized ceramic material in a test tube. Chloride was present, so silver chloride precipitated out.

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Spot test for nitrates and nitrites in soil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students then examined the makeup of different ceramics through a process known as petrographic analysis. A thin section is cut from the vessel and examined under a microscope. In this manner, the different minerals or vegetal material that the ceramic is made of are easier to identify.

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Examining petrographic thin-sections

 

Lastly, Marianne discussed the different ways of identifying fabric. Animal, plant, and synthetic fibers have different characteristics that can be identified through various examinations.

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Examining different fibers under the microscope

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Animal, vegetal, and synthetic fibers all look different.

Not only do fibers appear visually different under a microscope, but when placed in an open flame burn in a variety of ways.

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Students identifying the different burn characteristics of some common fibers.

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Testing Common Fibers.

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Testing Common Fibers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lab 3: Mending Pottery and Glass

The third lab focused on the art of mending pottery and glass.

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Marianne demonstrating mending glass

Marianne demonstrated mending broken glass with the adhesive Hxtal (NYL-1). She first made repairs to a piece of flat colored glass from a leaded window and then to a drinking glass.

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Broken glassware and window glass

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Adhesive, Hxtal (NYL-1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marianne then showed the students how to create a plaster fill in a terracotta pot.  She first placed tape along the inside of the broken pot at the location of the missing piece to act as a backing.  This can also be achieved with dental sheet wax.  She then applied 10-15% Acryloid B72 in acetone onto the pot in the area to be filled.  This will help to prevent the plaster from becoming embedded in the surface of the pot while the fill is being leveled.  She then mixed plaster and filled in the loss area.

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Marianne creating a plaster infill for a pot

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Filled loss

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Loss before filling

 

Next, Marianne demonstrated the art of mending broken pottery.  Each student was given a broken flower pot (with some pieces missing) and assigned the task of dry-fitting the pieces back together.  Then Marianne showed the students the steps involved in mending the pottery following the procedure outlined in:  Koob, Stephen, and Tony Sigel. 1997. “Conservation and Restoration under Field Conditions: Ceramics Treatment at Sardis, Turkey.” Objects Specialty Group Postprints: American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 5: 98–115.

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Students mending pottery

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Applying Glue

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Piecing two halves back together

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Lab 2: Examination Techniques and Accession Numbers

The second lab focused on the examination processes one walks through to get acquainted with an object.

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Getting Acquainted with Objects

Marianne demonstrated several different ways to look at and manipulate an object to learn more about it. First the class examined a Laconian kylix (cup) and an Attic jug under ultraviolet light, as the repairs made the vessels can be made clearer under UV light.

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Using an IR microscope

Marianne also demonstrated how different materials appear under different lighting conditions including infrared light and raking light. For example, the presence of carbon containing inks may become clearer under IR light, which can be used to see the under-drawing of a painting. On a fragment of pottery, when examined under raking light, one could see the outline of a different shape (a kylix or cup) underneath the final image of an amphora (storage vessel).

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Examining a pottery sherd under raking light

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Step 1: In regular lighting, one can see a red amphora (storage vessel), lying on its side.

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Step 2: Under Raking light, a small kylix (cup) can be seen in outline inside the area of the red amphora (storage vessel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Lindenlauf and Marianne explained how magnification can elucidate the fabric of a vessel to understand how it was manufactured or the average number of warp and weft threads per centimeter in a Coptic textile.

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Examining vessel fabric

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Using the digital microscope to examine a Coptic textile

In addition to spending time really looking at an object to discover more about it, Marianne explained that if an object represents a known type, research can help point to features that one may not be able to see, but can be found if you look. For example, Marianne demonstrated how when air moves through a pair of Peruvian pots, the vessel whistles. The whistling would occur when the vessel was tipped to pour out liquids.

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Whistling Pots

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Munsell charts and Pantone color cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color cards for photographs, Munsell charts for pottery, and Pantone color cards for fine arts all increase one’s ability to accurately document color. Calipers, rulers, scales, and vessel diameter charts quantitatively describe an object’s size, shape, and weight.

All of the data gathered about the object would go into a condition report. Marianne and Professor Lindenlauf walked through some of the processes with a vessel by the Bryn Mawr Painter and recorded the data on a sample condition report form.

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Examining the Bryn Mawr Painter Plate

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Loan Condition Report Example

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Sample Condition Report Form

In addition, the class learned how accession numbers are applied to objects. Each object has its own unique accession number that identifies it within the collection. In order to ensure that an object is always identifiable, this number is attached to the object in a variety of ways. Marianne demonstrated two different techniques. For metal, stone and ceramic objects, a small layer of acrylic resin (Acryloid B72 in Acetone) is applied to create a base layer upon which the accession number can be written in permanent ink or acrylic emulsion artist paints. The resin protects the object from the ink and can easily be removed with acetone. In addition, a top coat of a different resin (Acryloid B67 in Naptha) is applied to protect the number from smudging or wear. Another type of label that can be used is a small piece of cotton twill tape with the number written on it which can be applied with a few tacking stitches to a textile object (as long as the object is in good condition and sturdy enough for this type of numbering system).

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Test Objects Ready to Receive Accession Numbers

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Accession Numbers Added to Labels