Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Rotating “Masterpieces of Japanese Art”

This week new paintings will be installed in the “Masterpieces of Japanese Art” exhibition.  Because the exhibit has been extended to January 2016, many of the hanging scrolls that have been on display since February will return to storage, and new paintings will take their place.  The paintings will be exchanged to protect the light sensitive pigments and fragile silk mounts from excessive exposure and from the stress of hanging.  One of the paintings that will go on view is Monkeys, a hanging scroll painted in ink and colors on silk by Mori Sosen in the late 18th or early 19th century.  This painting is in good condition, but it was in the conservation lab to remove a water stain on the top of the silk mount, just visible on this before-treatment image.  The stain had to be treated without taking the mount apart.  Our paper conservator used a suction table to help control water that was applied to the stain with a small brush.  Damp cellulose fiber poultices were used to pull the stain from the top dowel, because the suction table would not work on the round dowel.  She also reduced surface grime and reinforced the creases present in the painting.  Monkeys will be on display in Gallery 234 with other paintings from the collection of Joseph C. Thoms.

Image Credit:  1982.12 Mori Sosen, Monkeys, ink and colors on silk (hanging scroll), Japanese, late 18th-early 19th century,  80 1/4 in. x 22 3/8 in., The Thoms Collection; Given by Mrs. Murat H. Davidson in honor of her grandfather, Joseph C. Thoms