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Saturday, May 31 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Architecture Session) Two Views Through the Same Window: Long-Term Preservation Goals for Stained Glass Windows Within the Context of Historic Buildings

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This paper aims to present challenges encountered when the conservator must consider building requirements in equal measure to the conservation of a stained glass window.

The preservation of leaded art glass windows, referred to in this paper generally as “stained glass windows” has always been multi-faceted. Broadly placed in two categories: museum objects or functioning components of historic buildings; the criteria of conserving these works of art are project-specific. First and foremost, the windows must be stabilized in order to survive and be appreciated by future generations. But beyond that baseline, the necessities of the two are divergent.

Unlike a museum object that will be conserved once and its condition maintained mostly by a controlled environment with guards or barriers preventing physical interaction with the public; stained glass in an architectural setting must function as a window. As such, it inherently experiences exposure to the public and weathering, which means it will require treatment in the future.

How does one therefore approach these objects with sustainability in mind? Knowing the cyclical nature of this type of preservation, a conservator can make some informed decisions on how to extend times between actions. Conditions of the building immediately surrounding the window, particularly supporting framework, must be considered as integral to the window’s longevity; especially in deciding the order in which needs are addressed. Multi-phase treatments should be components of a whole, rather than conceived and executed in isolation; even if separated by years.

Key factors discussed will be:

  • Evaluating the condition of all stained glass windows in the building as a whole, before embarking on treatment of just one – The values of a survey

  • Protecting the windows from the environment, while maintaining natural light sources and aesthetics – Is exterior protection necessary? If so, what type?

  • Weighing the potential of up-front costs with future return on investment - Cycle: which window is the best project catalyst? |funds are procured | more windows treated| greater awareness by the public 

Using three case studies as examples, we will explore preservation strategies for stained glass that seek to balance the potential conflict between art object and building component.

  • The “St. Cecilia” window of St. Boniface Church in San Francisco; part of a series of windows created specifically for the church shortly after the 1906 earthquake by the Ludwig von Gerichten Studios of Ohio. The church is a city Historic Landmark.

  • Stained glass windows at St. Vincent de Paul, built by Century Stained Glass Studios of San Francisco in 1948.

  • Two stained glass windows designed and built by Bruce Porter for the Swedenborgian Church, established in San Francisco on March 17, 1895 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

All three churches open to the public and based in San Francisco. They welcome tours to AIC Members during the conference.

avatar for Ariana Makau

Ariana Makau

Conservator, Nzilani Glass Conservation, LLC
Ariana Makau has been involved in the field of conservation for over 20 years. She is the president and principle conservator of Nzilani Glass Conservation, Inc. Ms. Makau trained in the Antiquities Conservation Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum and received a Masters in Stained... Read More →

Saturday May 31, 2014 11:00am - 11:30am PDT
Garden Room