General lines of work
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Conservation Department works along two parallel lines:
- Preventive conservation: risk analysis and establishment of appropriate artwork storage, handling, transport, and exhibition measures of art in order to guarantee that they are preserved correctly.
- Study of the techniques and materials involved in the works, plus the causes and processes of their deterioration to set the necessary conservation measures and, when appropriate, plan treatments or more adequate actions.
Research, relating to both the field of preventive conservation and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao collection, is one of the department’s fundamental activities.
In this respect, the museum has been participating in national and international research projects with other museums and institutions such as INCCA (International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art) (www.incca.org), a knowledge exchange platform for conservation of modern art.
The Conservation Department is also working on raising public awareness and active implication in preserving cultural heritage for future generations. They thereby take diverse collectives on guided tours, explaining their facilities and activities (university students, museum professionals, specialized public, etc.). The project A Hidden Picasso is the result of this awareness-raising work, clearly aiming to inform and educate.
This discipline of relatively recent introduction to museums has now become an essential part of all heritage conservation policies.
The Conservation Department manages and advocates a plan of comprehensive preventive conservation. Having first of all identified, discovered the characteristics of and evaluated the different risks threatening works, we establish the following:
- Prevention measures: ideal conditions of conservation, storage, handling, packaging, transport, exhibition and maintenance of works, taking different factors into account, such as ambient temperature, relative humidity, visible light radiation, UV light radiation, vibrations, knocks, plagues and pests, etc.
- Steps to be taken should any of these risks actually occur.
Within the context of preventive conservation, the Museum has developed and started up an Art Work Emergency Plan operating since 2003. To present it, the museum organized a specialized seminar on art work emergency plans in December 2007, “Emergency Plans for Museums. Working towards Full Preventive Conservation”.
Emergency plans for Museums. Working towards Full Preventive Conservation
There is growing interest in art work emergency plans among the museology community, providing one of the basic pillars of preventive conservation applied to museums and exhibition centers. The seminar featured the participation of internationally renowned experts who addressed the issue from different angles based on their own professional experience. A wide range of aspects was discussed, including the process of creating an emergency plan (risk detection and assessment, implementation of prevention systems, recovery plans, etc.), technical and economic viability, and awareness and personnel training. The presentations provided a comprehensive view of the situation, identifying the various emergency management models in place today in museums both in Spain and around the world.
Conservation of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection
Each work in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection is exhaustively studied to identify its technical and material characteristics, establish its state of conservation and design the appropriate strategy for guaranteeing its preservation.
We also define specific instructions for the storage, handling, transport, exhibition and maintenance of each work. Sometimes, when required by the technical and material characteristics of certain works, employees from the Conservation Department coordinate interdisciplinary teams made up of professionals from other areas to complete exhaustive research.
At others, specific conservation and/or restoration work is carried out on works belonging to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection.
Thanks to the importance of the studies and processes carried out on works belonging to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection, and their usefulness for other professionals, the Museum actively participates in differentnational and international professional forums, presenting its results in the shape of papers and scientific articles.
Introduction of a plan of preventive conservation: development and introduction of a comprehensive prevention plan. [PDF - 1.15 Mb]
Emergency Plan for Works of Art: design and introduction of an Emergency Plan for Works of Art. [PDF - 934.74 Kb]
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Art Work Emergency Plan. Download the complete project document
Anselm Kiefer at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: towards a new methodology for the preventive conservation of contemporary artworks.
Congress web page: www.iiconservation.org
Installation for Bilbao by Jenny Holzer, as part of the European project Inside Installations
European project: www.inside-installations.org
A Matter of Time de Richard Serra. Transport, installation and exhibition of Richard Serra's The Matter of Time.
Conservation of an outdoor bronze sculpture. Proposal for the maintenance of Louise Bourgeois' Maman.