A Painting in the Book Conservation Lab

It is not unusual for items which are neither books nor paper occasionally to make their way to the Library Conservation Lab.  Archives are notorious for containing a broad range of materials, and ISU Library’s Special Collections & Archives is  no exception.  In addition to plenty of books and paper in various formats, the collection also contain photographs, glass plate negatives, film, medals, beanies, clothing, appliances, chemistry lab equipment, cameras, computer parts, and sculptures.  In fact, one of my interns is working on designing a protective enclosure for a heavy, crystal vase.

Given the range of materials that might come through our doors, the appearance of a painting is actually not so surprising.  The Dean’s Office recently brought us Kurt Anderson‘s study (an oil on canvas) for his mural Prairie Sky, which adorns one wall of the ISU Library lobby.

Kurt Anderson study "Prairie Sky" after tape removal and cleaning

The painting had been taped to a foam-core support using packing tape.  One piece of tape had been pulled up, leaving a gummy residue on the canvas that had attracted dust and dirt.  I removed the remainder of the packing tape with a microspatula and then carefully removed the sticky adhesive residue using a “crepe eraser.”  I picked up the larger pieces of dust and dirt adhered to the area where the packing tape had previously been peeled away using fine-tipped tweezers, and then used the crepe eraser to remove the rest of the dirty residue.  The painting is now on its way to be photographed for digital prints.

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