A CONDITION SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND DATABASE FOR PLASTIC OBJECTS AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
BY KATE MOOMAW
In 2008-2009, a condition survey was developed and implemented for plastic objects in the Department of Nineteenth Century, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Condition surveys are of great importance for plastic objects, which are frequently unstable or fragile and require further conservation research. The project focused on developing a condition survey form and relational database, which together allow for systematic information gathering and searchable data. Both survey tools were developed using readily available software: Microsoft Word and Filemaker Pro. The tools were applied to a group of 50 of the 250 objects with plastic components in the collection. An overview of the tools is presented including a description of what information should be obtained about plastic objects. The importance of analysis to identify plastic materials is discussed. In addition, findings of the survey are presented, with case studies of objects including a 1920s cellulose acetate box from the workshop of René Lalique, a group of lamps, a 1970s Capitello Sidechair in painted polyurethane foam, and a Soft Chaise Longue by Werner Aisslinger with discoloured Technogel cushions. Preventive conservation measures that could be put in place quickly and at low cost are described.