UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

A graduate conservation training program focusing on the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials

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UCLA/Getty Program Welcomes Dr. Caitlin O’Grady, Univ. of Delaware Mellon Fellow in Conservation Education

The UCLA/Getty program welcomes Dr. Caitlin O’Grady, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Conservation Education in the Art Conservation Dept. at the University of Delaware. Caitlin is an objects conservator with a specialty in archaeological materials and a conservation scientist with research interests in nondestructive analytical technologies and technical reconstructions of original manufacturing technologies and artifact deterioration to inform conservation. She received a B.A. with Honors in Art History with minors in Chemistry and Economics from Case Western Reserve University (magna cum laude), an M.A. in Art History and Advanced Certificate in Conservation from New York University, and, a M.S. and Ph.D. in Heritage Conservation Science from the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Arizona. Her dissertation research focused on the use of portable x-ray fluorescence analysis for the interpretation and preservation of museum artifacts. Caitlin has also worked as a conservator on several excavations and is currently the managing director of conservation for the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) in Turkey, which is a project run by Dr. Christopher Roosevelt and Dr. Christina Luke of Boston University.

As part of her Mellon Fellowship, Caitlin will be with us for two weeks learning about the structure of our conservation program and observing the different teaching styles of the faculty. She will also be lecturing and teaching in two classes. One lecture will focus on stone conservation and have students looking at different consolidants and adhesives used for stone. Caitlin will also be teaching about the desalination of ceramics and include a hands on session where students try out different methods for desalinating ceramics. In her first week here, she gave a lunch time talk at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology titled “Lost Walls/Murals Rebuilt: Interdisciplinary approaches to the Conservation of Preclassic Maya Wall Paintings from San Bartolo, Guatemala”. This talk is based on a current collaboration with Dr. Heather Hurst, Skidmore College, on the preservation and analysis of murals from the Maya site of San Bartolo in Guatemala.

We are excited to have Caitlin here and to have her teach in our program. We hopes she enjoys her time with us and her escape from the cold east coast weather (and she says she did)!

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The UCLA/Getty Program goes “C.S.I.”: The use of a forensic light source for the examination and documentation of archaeological evidence

Conservators are always looking for new techniques that will aid in the examination and documentation of art. The UCLA/Getty Program purchased a forensic light source, the Mini CrimeScope (from Horiba Scientific), to investigate its application in conservation. The CrimeScope is an alternate light source used by crime scene investigators to look for blood stains, latent fingerprints or any other forensic evidence they could utilize for solving crimes. The wavelength of the emitted light in the CrimeScope is controlled by filter wheels that allow material to be examined from ultraviolet to infrared. Instead of solving crimes, students in the conservation program have been using it to solve archaeological mysteries through the study of ancient and ethnographic objects. Artifacts analyzed include pre-Columbian ceramics and polychrome African wooden masks. They have been using the light source to look for evidence to answer questions about materials, technology and manufacture of artifacts, areas of deterioration and signs of previous conservation interventions. Our CrimeScope has also been used by colleagues at the J. Paul Getty Museum to look at the faint remains of a drawing on a white ground lekythos.

The CrimeScope is being employed to compliment other techniques of analysis and provide a first screening during the examination of materials. With the use of a forensic camera and a series of different camera filters the students have also been able to record the fluorescence and luminescence of materials and to see beneath their surface. The results are remarkable and we are currently exploring other potential applications of our CrimeScope to investigate and document different archaeological and ethnographic treasures.

The image above shows how the CrimeScope helped to highlight the decoration on a pre-Columbian vessel that was not as evident when viewed in visible light (left image) or ultraviolet (UV) light (central image). When examined in visible light, the decoration on the vessel is faint and obscured by burial deposits. Examination using a UV light at λexc max=365nm allowed for the decoration to be more visible. However, using the CrimeScope with a filter at λexc max=415nm the decoration was more distinctive and stood out. In particular the "S" shaped design on the upper left side of the vessel, which is slightly visible in the central image under UV, is much clearer in the image taken using the CrimeScope. (Vessel image courtesy of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Photo taken by A. North, 1st year conservation student)