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Voiceover: Here at the University of Michigan Museum of Art,

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paintings on silk and paper from private collectors,

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art museums around the country, and our own renowned collections,

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are treated, remounted and conserved at the

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Robert B. Jacobs Asian Art Conservation Lab.

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The Museum of Art's Asian art holdings include

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nearly 400 Chinese and Japanese paintings,

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and almost 1,000 prints and drawings.

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Kewai Wang: Asian paintings can survive for centuries, but over such a long time,

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they can be damaged by careless handling, changes in humidity,

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too much exposure to sunlight, and even insects.

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Voiceover: Before treatment, conservator Kewei Wang considers the

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style and age of the painting, print, or drawing.

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The condition must be carefully documented.

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She will intervene as minimally as possible,

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and will develop treatment options to extend the life of the work,

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rather than make it look new. Yet, serious damage needs to be treated

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to preserve the work of the artist. And the results can be dramatic.

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Even this Chinese scroll, approximately 150 years old,

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and badly deteriorated, can be restored in our laboratory.

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Kewai Wang: The painting must be stapled and secured,

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and the structure must be sound.

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My condition assessment helps to determine

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a customized treatment plan.

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Voiceover: A light table is used for detailed repair work.

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All structural repairs to the work should be done

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from the back to leave the pigment undisturbed.

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Here, damage from a worm hole is being repaired.

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A rinse of purified water helps to gently cleanse

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surface dirt and remove backing papers.

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Washing is a necessary procedure for every

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painting that's to be remounted.

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Once moistened, the backing is removed from the painting,

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and the work can be stabilized and reinforced

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with new backing material.

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Mounting silks are chosen to enhance the visual appeal

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of the artwork and match the style of the original.

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Occasionally, end painting is used to minimize

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the effects of previous damage to the surface,

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from abrasions or scratches,

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or when pigment has begun cracking or flaking.

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Small amounts of paint are skillfully applied

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to fill cracks or repair surface blemishes.

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While the lab specializes in Asian art,

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the same techniques also are used to restore Western

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works of art here in our museum's conservation lab.

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The treatment process may require six months to a year to complete,

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but the time and investment are critical in order

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to preserve the historical integrity of these priceless

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works of art for generations to come.