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Thursday, May 29 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Architecture + Objects Session) The Development of Treatment Protocol at the Watts Towers Conservation Project

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Since January 2011, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has worked under contract to the City of Los Angeles on the conservation of the Watts Towers, a National Historic Landmark sculptural site. Created by Sabato Rodia between 1921 and 1954, the Towers are considered a masterpiece of ‘outsider art.’ They consist of 8 sculptures constructed of scrap iron covered in Portland cement and scavenged glass and tile fragments, sea shells, stones, and other material. LACMA’s mandate is to update the site’s conservation and maintenance protocol through written guidance, as well as provide daily preservation maintenance.

LACMA’s monitoring program has helped identify some of the primary causes of deterioration, including vibrations and thermal stress. Cyclic patterns in the movement of cracks and fragment loss has prompted the decision to pursue flexible repair materials whenever possible. Polymer modified mortars, elastomeric crack fillers, and a range of adhesives were first evaluated offsite in terms of performance and aesthetics; the best candidates were then tested onsite in pilot treatments. Subsequent and ongoing monitoring of these treatments has allowed the team to further refine their materials selection and application methodology. The team’s approach and candidate conservation materials for mortar fills, crack fills, and ornament stabilization will be described.

Speaker(s)
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Blanka Kielb

Assistant Conservator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Blanka Kielb is a graduate of the Queen's University Program in Art Conservation, where she earned a Master of Art Conservation degree in paintings, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Her professional interests include treatment of painted surfaces with a focus on wall paintings... Read More →

Co-Author(s)
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Frank Preusser, PhD

Senior Conservation Scientist and Project Manager, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Frank D. Preusser received his PhD in chemistry in 1973 from the Technical University in Munich, Germany.  From 1973 to 1983 he was head of the scientific laboratory of the Doerner Institut in Munich. From 1983 to 1993 he worked at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles... Read More →
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Sylvia Schweri-Dorsch

Associate Conservator, Watts Tower Conservation Project, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Thursday May 29, 2014 4:00pm - 4:30pm PDT
Grand Ballroom B-C