US Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration
The project was divided into three phases. Phase 1 entailed providing a conservation plan for the 79 ship models. This included a condition report for each individual model and its individual components, a prioritized summary of repairs, a description of recommended treatment, and recommendation for display, storage, and model-specific handling instructions.
Phase 2 involved making the necessary repairs. WEI treated the models in order of priority, giving precedence to models that need a significant amount of work and – equally important – are an integral part of the MARAD collection. Since the repairs had to be performed off site, careful consideration was given to transportation of the models; some of ships were 8 feet in length, presenting a challenge to move them without damaging the extremely delicate parts and rigging. WEI built custom crates and used archival packing materials to protect and cushion each model, ensuring no harm occurred during transportation to and from MARAD headquarters.
All repairs were been performed in the Worcester Eisenbrandt studio and workshop. The conservators chose materials that were compatible with the existing material and finishes. Lead corrosion resulting in material loss was a concern with several of the models; in these cases they were stabilized to retain as much of the original material as possible. Areas of loss and missing components were sourced from model distributors or fabricated in-house, and production casting was done with conservation-grade acrylic or epoxy casting materials. A significant component of treatment involved consolidating loose and flaking finishes, as well as infilling and inpainting areas of loss. Conservators used reversable adhesive introduced by injection or fine brush application. Providing an acetone solvent base for the adhesive facilitated consolidation of the brittle enamels by increasing their pliability, thus allowing them to be flattenned back onto the substrate. Acrylic fills were used to augment areas of loss, the type depending on the composition of the object (i.e. wood or plastic), as well as on the extent of loss. Local inpainting was performed with conservation-grade acrylics and enamels.
Phase 3 required fabricating display cases for the ship models. The material chosen for the cases were protective museum-grade materials that facilitate viewing while on display. UV-filtering Plexiglas was used for the vitrines and a formaldehyde-free plywood for the bases. Each base received a total of four coats of acrylic sealer, primer, and paint.
To conclude the project, a final treatment report was submitted, which includes documentation of all work undertaken, with images before, during, and after conservation treatment. Maintenance recommendations will also be included, as will product data and MSDS for all materials.