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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Safely Travelling Master Prints

by Conservation

3/18/2021

Albrecht Dürer , Frist Art Museum , Nashville , Tennessee

Over the winter, Albrecht Dürer: The Age of Reformation and Renaissance, organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and shown here in the winter of 2017-2018, travelled to the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  After a successful run, albeit with limited numbers of visitors in the gallery, the 108 prints and three books are back in Cincinnati.  Last summer, all of the prints and their frames were examined and detailed notes were made to document their condition before going out on loan.  Now the paper conservator is examining them once again before taking them out of the frames and returning them to their boxes in storage.  The unframing is taking longer than usual.  All of the frame packages (the glazing, matted prints and backing boards) were sealed to prevent moisture damage in the unlikely event that they got wet either while in transit or while on the walls at the Frist.  The tape sealing the frame packages has to be removed, and any adhesive left behind when the tape is peeled away has to be cleaned off of the edges of the acrylic glazing.

 The Frist staff took another security measure when they hung the prints by securing the frames to the walls to prevent anyone easily removing them.  This also helps protect the prints in the event of an earthquake or other situation where they might be shaken off the walls.  Nashville had such an event on Christmas day when an explosion damaged buildings downtown.  Fortunately, the Frist was not affected, but had the blast been closer to the museum, the story could have been different.  The museum was happy to be able to share these treasures with our neighbors in Nashville, and we are glad to have them back home.