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Collection Conservation

Object conservation

 

Ambum stone

 

Before treatment

Damage sustained as a result of the fall consisted of breakage of the object into 3 main parts: the head, main body, and a large chip-like section from the head.

Numerous losses were apparent along the joins: most of the losses occurred in the old fill material, some in the original stone.

Several bruises were apparent on the surface, the most serious visible on the protruding part close to the base of the object, the protruding part of the left eye, and the protruding part on the side (Click on images to enlarge for details and exact locations).

 
 
Damage sustained to the Ambum Stone as the result of a fall shim Damage sustained to the Ambum Stone as the result of a fall shim Damage sustained to the Ambum Stone as the result of a fall shim
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Damage sustained to the Ambum Stone as the result of a fall
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During treatment

shim The object placed in a saturate atmosphere of acetone vapours to minimise the risk of solvent staining of the surface
The object placed in a saturate atmosphere of acetone vapours to minimise the risk of solvent staining of the surface
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  The broken head reveals a fault line in the stone
The broken head reveals a fault line in the stone
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  A chip from the head of the object
A chip from the head of the object
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  The inner part of a chip reveals water stains and plant residues from the period of burial
The inner part of a chip reveals water stains and plant residues from the period of burial
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The stability of the adhered joins was unclear. It was therefore decided to take the broken sections apart and re-adhere them under a carefully controlled environment.

The broken main body
The broken body
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The restoration was taken apart by placing the object in a saturated atmosphere of acetone vapours to minimise the risk of solvent staining of the surface. After 92 hours the adhesive softened and the broken sections were separated.

After de-assembly, it became apparent that the sculpture had not been broken before, as was previously assumed. A fault line in the stone - common in sedimentary rocks - was indicated by the cracks on the surface. The cracks were very old and shallow, and had been penetrated by water and plant activity during the period of burial before the object was found in PNG in the early 1960s.

Water stains and plant residues were revealed on the inner part of a chip.

The old adhesive was cleaned off and the broken sections were adhered using conservation sound adhesives. Losses around the edges were filled with the same adhesive mixed with sand and inpainted to match the surrounding areas.

 

After treatment shim  
The right side of the object after treatment with edges filled with adhesive and sand to match the surrounding area The left side of the object after treatment with edges filled with adhesive and sand to match the surrounding area
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The right and left sides of the object after treatment with edges filled with adhesive and sand to match the surrounding area