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Museum Collection's Storage System Revolutionized by Collaboration
For the past 100 years, the standard in storing and transporting artworks has been wood crates, which block curators, conservators and registrars from seeing objects while in storage and also emit low levels of sulfur that can be damaging to artworks.
HOUSON, TX.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Rice University unveiled today a working prototype of a system that has the potential to revolutionize storage practices in the field of art conservation. For the past 100 years, the standard in storing and transporting artworks has been wood crates, which block curators, conservators and registrars from seeing objects while in storage and also emit low levels of sulfur that can be damaging to artworks. Due to the groundbreaking work of four Rice University undergraduate students who participated in an inaugural Engineering and Design for Art and Artifact (EDAAC) program at Rice University’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a more conservation- and archival-friendly storage solution has been developed. Their innovative system allows three-dimensional art objects to remain visible and secure within a skeletal structure (made of materials approved by art conservators), and creates a safer, more visible environment for the work. In addition, the system enables quick assembly of the object housing, as the components can be easily assembled and disassembled—much like Tinker Toys or Erector Sets—yet still allows customization of securing and protecting the object within the structure.

“The prototype storage system that the EDAAC students designed has the potential to transform the way museums around the nation conserve, store, and move artwork. It is a major accomplishment,” said MFAH director Dr. Peter C. Marzio. “When different communities work together for the greater good, it is possible to achieve results beyond what any one institution could do. This project is the latest to come from a long-standing and successful history of partnership between the MFAH and Rice University.”

“I love the fact that our team had students in humanities and art history as well as engineering,” said Sallie Keller, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering. “This project went beyond my wildest imagination in terms of what they accomplished. It's a really exciting time to build a strong programmatic connection, not only in the storage of artifacts but also in this whole interplay among art, science, engineering and technology.”

Out of a pool of over 30 applicants, four Rice undergraduate students were awarded fellowships from the university's Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), initiating research to apply the engineering design process to pressing problems in art conservation. As part of the inaugural EDAAC program—an interdisciplinary course taught from a humanities and engineering standpoint—the students worked with Rice University and MFAH staff to develop a standardized storage system to house three-dimensional artworks.

During an intensive, nine-week summer semester, undergraduate students Caleb Brown (bioengineering and visual and dramatic arts), Rhodes Coffey (mechanical engineering), Kristi Day (civil engineering) and Nicole Garcia (chemical engineering) spent 40 hours per week investigating art conservation storage solutions. The team was guided by Dr. Matthew Wettergreen, Caroline Collective, and Dr. Maria Oden, Professor in the Practice of Engineering Education.

The EDAAC class made several trips to the MFAH during the course of the summer, where they met with Wynne Phelan, Conservation Director, and Julie Bakke, Chief Registrar, to tour existing storage facilities, discuss preventative conservation, and learn how and why artworks are moved. The students also shadowed MFAH art handlers on weekly truck runs, observing the transportation of artworks. After their on-site studies in museum conservation and storage concluded, MFAH staff invited each student to design a storage solution for one artwork of their choice.

The students’ engineering design progress is well-documented on their Web site: http://edaac.rice.edu.

In addition, the students took a summer entrepreneurship course, sponsored by Innovation Norway, to complete business plans for their new product. The plans detail market size, cost analysis, a marketing plan and competitive analysis.

Four Storage Solutions
Prototype storage solutions have been designed for the following artworks: a bronze sculpture, titled "The Bronco Buster" (1895), by Frederic Remington; Medardo Rosso’s "Head of a Child" (The Jewish Boy), a wax and plaster sculpture created c. 1892; Antonio Berni’s "La sordidez" (Sordidness) de la serie Monstruos cósmicos (from the series Cosmic Monsters)—a sculpture made of wood, steel, iron, aluminum, cardboard, plastic, roots, nails and enamel c. 1964; and a cyanotype, paper, and thread dress, titled "History Dress #1" (from the series Identity Clothing) (2007-08), by Ginger Owen-Murakami.

The Museum of Fine Arts | Engineering and Design for Art and Artifact | Dr. Peter C. Marzio | Sallie Keller |




Last Week News

October 21, 2009

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American Figurative Artist and Feminist, Nancy Spero, Dies at 83

A Masterwork by a Renaissance Genius: Raphael to be Offered at Christie's

Sotheby's Fall Sales of Impressionist and Modern Art to Be Held in New York

Exhibition of Spanish Painting and Sculpture Opens at the National Gallery

AP Says Shepard Fairey Made Up Story About Obama Poster

Anish Kapoor Installation Opens as Part of Museum's 50th

Landmark Exhibition Devoted to Art of Samurai Opens at Metropolitan Museum

Tate and Legacy Trust UK Announce First Ever Tate Movie

Survey Finds Out More People Visit Museums During the Recession

Emerging Leaders in the U.S. Museum Community Selected as 2010 Fellows

California Abstract Expressionist Works Given to the Crocker Art Museum

Major Exhibition at Design Museum Celebrates David Chipperfield's Work

Musée d'Orsay Revives Art Nouveau in Exhibition Opening Today

Saint Louis Art Museum Opens Five Centuries of Japanese Screens

Old Guard: New York State Auctioning Historic Armories

The Soverign Art Foundation and the Barbican Centre Announce New Partnership

Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Van Gogh, Picasso and More at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

National Gallery of Australia Opens Exhibition to Honour Senior Indigenous Emerging Artists

Cleveland Museum's Amelia Earhart 'Hair' just Thread

October 20, 2009

Major Exhibition Devoted to "The Torments of Passion: The Dark Side of Sexual Desire"

Sackler Gallery Offers First Exhibition of Rare Manuscripts

Chateau de Versailles Devotes a Large Scale Exhibition to Louis XIV

Prominent Collections & Rare Masterpieces Highlight Christie's Sales

Organizers Say ArtPrize to Return to Grand Rapids in 2010

Museo Picasso Málaga Opens Sophie Taeuber-Arp Retrospective

Breton Masterpiece Returns to the Frick Art & Historical Center for Limited Time

Clear Evidence of Renewed Confidence at Frieze Art Fair 2009

Gail Harrity Appointed President and COO of the Philadelphia Musem of Art

Works by Ruscha and Warhol to Highlight Fall Auction of Fine Prints at Bonhams

Park Service to Take on Bill Clinton's First Home in Arkansas

Gap House Designed by Pitman Tozer Architects Wins the Manser Medal 2009

Cult Film 'The Third Man' Starring Orson Welles Lives on in Vienna Tours

The Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery Extends World Tour of "Garden and Cosmos" to Australia

Legendary Photographer Emmet Gowin Celebrated in New Exhibition

Museum in Pasadena Shows Major Survey of Paintings by Wayne Thiebaud

Boston University Art Gallery to Present Designs for Domestic Architecture from Historic New England

Ashery (Born West Jerusalem, Israel) Collaborates with Sansour (Born East Jerusalem, Palestine) at Tate Modern

El Ray, a Small Holiday House, Wins the Stephen Lawrence Prize 2009

Writing not on the Wall for Lisbon Graffiti Artists

October 19, 2009

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Exhibition Focuses on Crucial Period in Murillo's Career

Richard Rogers' Maggie's Cancer Care Centre has Won the RIBA Stirling Prize 2009

FIAC 2009 Art Fair Draws Contemporary Art Focus to Paris

Paris Photo 2009 to Spotlight Arab and Iranian Photography

The Footprints of the Builders of the Lod Mosaic were Exposed

Museum in Paris Shows Works by Artists Aware that Death was Imminent

New Survey Book of Contemporary African Art Since 1980

Thatcher Projects Opens Exhibition of New Work by Bill Thompson

National Gallery of Victoria Presents Exhibition of Photographic Works

Georgia Museum of Art Wins Three Publication Awards

Painter Peter Doig and Pianist Stephen Hough Collaborate for One Evening

Eli Wilner Reframes Winslow Homer's Old Mill for the Yale University Art Gallery

Boca Raton Museum Announces Re-Accreditation by AAM

The Art of Socialist Realism at Jeschke-Van Vliet in Berlin

Legendary Fashion Icon Holds Court at Peabody Essex Museum

First Survey of the Early Work by Sean Landers to be Shown in St. Louis

Hello World! Features Rarely Seen Works from Museum's Collection

Spencer Museum Assembles Recent Work by Video Artists Working in Asia

Feminine Figurative Works Grace Michener Art Museum's Outdoor Sculpture Garden this Winter

Exhibition to Show the Glasgow School of Art in the Early Twentieth Century

October 18, 2009

Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image on View at The Byzantine & Christian Museum

Shepard Fairey Admits Using Key AP Photo for 'HOPE' Poster

Exhibition at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston to Unlock the Secrets of Tomb 10A

Exhibition Commemorates 10th Anniversary of the National Design Awards

Indianapolis Museum of Art Announced Staffers will Face Furloughs

SOFA Chicago Returns to Navy Pier's Festival Hall for Its 16th Year

Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Explores Concepts of "Masterpiece"

Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen Presents James Turrell's Light Installation

First Major Exhibition in Yerevan of Original Work by Artist Arshile Gorky

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LACMA Presents First Major Museum Showing of Indian Comics

MFAH Presents Most Comprehensive US Exhibition of Korean Photography

Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow at the Currier Museum of Art

Photography Installation at the Columbia Museum of Art Features Larry Clark's Gritty Images

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Fundación Mapfre Presents Three Major Exhibitions to Mark the Start of the Season

Mirror, Mirror on the Gallery Wall: Contemporary Art Exhibition at BYU

Rare Works from the Masters Lead Christie's Fall Chinese Paintings Sale

New Berkeley Art Space Offers Eclectic Art Event on the Eve of the Day of the Dead

October 17, 2009

Museum of Fine Arts in Seville Shows Duchess of Alba's Private Art Collection

Major Retrospective of Ed Ruscha's Paintings at the Hayward Gallery

Celebrated Works by Warhol and Johns Lead Sale of Prints and Multiples

Man Who Reported Stolen Warhols Waives Insurance

Exhibition at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to Offer Rare Show of Paintings

Shepard Fairey and Steve Shames Partner to Benefit Orphans in Uganda

Erwin Wurm Turns Real Objects into Sculptures at the Lenbachhaus

Steven Charles Holds His Second Solo Exhibition at Marlborough

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Sotheby's Sales of 20th Century Italian Art and Contemporary Art Realize $32,799,234

Internationally-Acclaimed Artist Makes U.S. Solo Debut at Peabody-Essex Museum

National Gallery of Canada Pays Tribute to Kinngait Studio Artists

Museum in St.Louis Announces New Exhibition by Stephen Prina

Sotheby's Four-Day Romano Sale Achieves $15,435,780

Aboriginal Artwork for Vancouver Olympics Medals

21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, KY Voted #1 Hotel in U.S.

October 16, 2009

Leopold Museum Explores Love, Fear and Death in Edvard Munch's Work

Berlin's Neues Museum will be Inaugurated Friday by German Chancellor

Christie's to Auction Restituted Painting by Camille Pissarro in November

Frieze Art Fair: Stand Prize Winner Announced, Tate Acquires New Work

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gives Major Gift to Smithsonian Museum

Swiss Curator Tops Art Power List, Damien Hirst Slumps

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum to Host Susan Rothenberg Exhibition

A New Wave of Vauxhall Collective Commissions are Announced

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The Courtauld Opens Exhibition Exploring Post-War London Building Sites

Seattle Art Museum is the Only U.S. Venue for Michelangelo Drawings from Florence

Internationally Renowned Australian Artist Ricky Swallow Exhibits in Australia

SMU's Meadows School of the Arts Announces Recipients of Inaugural Meadows Prize

High will Premiere New Exhibition of Digital Portraits by Photographer Robert Weingarten

Exhibition Presents Variety of Fresh Perspectives on the Irish Museum of Modern Art

Young Tate Presents a Halloween Homage to Destruction at Tate Liverpool

Experts Find Rare Crusader-Era Murals in Syria

British Sculptor Involved in Tragic Accident Dies

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt

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3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction

4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million

5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson

6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery

7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum

8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation

9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard

10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach

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