Just before the holidays, Mark the marble guy dropped by the NCMA to take one last look at the classical marble sculptures before he could hand over his reports and catalogue entries. Again we had to work in the dark galleries of the museum, but luckily we didn’t have to start as late as before… the sun sets much sooner in winter!
Assisted by Caroline “the Younger” (who was my intern in the spring), we reexamined the troublesome Hercules and just a few other sculptures with Mark’s nifty and very powerful flashlight, his new portable microscope and under ultraviolet lights. We also took photographs (UV and VIL/IRR) of details based on our earlier “night at the museum” sessions. This should be the last examination of the marbles and the research on these works of art is pretty much completed… but the project continues with the study of other ancient objects from different Classical cultures and made from different materials.
The recent work on the NCMA’s statue of a Bacchus was featured in my post on August 11; however, there appeared yesterday on Circa, the Museum blog, a fabulous post (if I may say so myself) that delves into the actual UV examination and the Bacchus Conservation Project like never before. Check out the very awesome video on Circa: Black Light on Bacchus: Inside a UV Exam.
I have to thank Luke for the video editing, sound editing and film footage, Karen M. and Chris for the stills and UV photos, Karen K. for the post storyboard and editing, Stacey and Corey for their conservation eye, Maggie and the guys for moving Bacchus around, Noelle for poking her head in the studio once in a while to check if we needed anything and Emily for mentioning our UV session on social media (which actually attracted the attention of journalists).
This week, I had planned a three or four day photography session of the statue of Bacchus… the statue that is soon to be object of a special conservation project. The session included regular photography, documentary photography and videography as well as UV examination and photography. Basically, Bacchus got the treatment he did not receive last summer during our nights at the museum.
The statue was brought to the museum’s photo studio and we spent the whole day examining every surface and every break under ultraviolet and regular light. Below are some pictures I took with my BlackBerry (and one is courtesy of Corey and her iPhone–that would be the one of me on the ladder with Chris).
The marble statue of Bacchus in the photo studio.
Yours truly holding the ladder so that Chris can wave a UV wand during an exposure and illuminate the top of Bacchus (where the big UV lamps don’t reach).
Weird ghost-like photo… it seems I took my shot at the same time as the strobes went off—overloading my camera with light. Cool, huh?
What perfect lighting does: show incredible details in the sculpted marble. Isn’t it amazing?
Side view of Bacchus under UV and the detail of the arm join on the computer.
Photographing every little detail of Bacchus: here Luke holds a reflector to dispel shadows as Karen takes a photo… of either Bacchus’ bum or the cracks in the joins in his thigh.
It looks like Bacchus sat in a puddle of radioactive goo… but the yellow-green stuff you see is the fluorescence of the restoration materials.
We were so efficient and everything went so smoothly that we were done by 3pm today! Bacchus was done in one day! All of us working on this project were rather pleased because it means we have the rest of the week to catch up on stuff. In my case, I’ll work on a conference presentation… and, if I can get that done quickly, get back to my revisions of an article slated for publication. I’m so glad we finished early!
I’m exhausted. The last two weeks have been rather hectic, to say the least. There were several evenings when I didn’t get home until after 11pm… We’ve worked very hard on the classical marbles: we’ve examined the statues like we’ve never done before at the museum and used some weird equipment, too—it was great fun!
I’m too tired to go into details right now, so I thought I would share photos today and describe the various studies in later posts when I’m actually awake and coherent.
Is this thing set to stun? Yours truly with the XRF ‘gun.’
This is not a stolen Star Trek phaser, but a handheld XRF analyser. (It’s not set to stun.)
A flash, its battery pack and filters for ultraviolet fluorescence (on unit) and visible-induced fluorescence (blue filter on table) imaging. (Safety goggles are needed for UVF.)
The Iridium 192 housing unit used in gamma radiography. (The other device is a radiation metre.)
Yours truly holding a red LED spotlight during an infrared reflectography session.
Is this the sucker-mouth of a Mynock? Nope, it’s the LED ring light at the end of the microscope.