A treasure to be preserved
Cultural heritage refers to all the relics of the past that have great value. These artifacts can include tangible artifacts (such as ancient monuments) or intangible artifacts (such as the customs of an area) that need a reservation for the future.
Cultural heritage is unique, irreplaceable, and valued and respected among generations. Smaller items, such as works of art and other Valuable masterpieces, are collected in museums and art galleries. While others, such as archeological sites, are collectively recognized as a cultural heritage site.
The legacies of the past are influential in the study of human history. Preserving them reflects the needs of the past, and behind each is a story. From another point of view protecting the works can help to validate the memories of the past.
Since the various dangers threaten the cultural heritage and considering that the historical monuments were not designed and built from the beginning with the aim of indestructibility or permanent preservation, preserving these monuments requires a lot of effort.
The status of a historical or artistic work depends on two factors: one is its highly variable constituents, and the other is the conditions under which the object is affected.
In general, the constituents of objects have two groups: organic and inorganic. In general, organic matter is weaker than minerals against natural decay. That is, decay or gradual erosion in organic matter is faster.
The rate of damage is the rate of destruction or erosion over a given time. Caries generally occurs in three forms:
- Physical decay:
Changes in the appearance of objects are due to the entry of physical and mechanical forces. Such as crushing, sawing, and breaking.
- Chemical decay:
Various chemical agents cause internal changes in the material and consequently affect its structure, like acidifying paper.
- Biological decay:
In this type of degradation, external biological agents cause damage to various materials. Such as the effect of fungi and numerous insects on paper, wood or fabric, food source, light, and darkness by providing a suitable environment for the growth and activity of such factors play a significant role in the destruction of various materials.
Different objects in different places and situations face various dangers. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the destructive factors to repair it according to the type of damage and the type of material.
Causes of destruction
The amount of water vapor per unit volume of air is called absolute humidity.
The amount of water in the air changes under the influence of temperature changes (relative humidity). In other words, the ratio of absolute humidity at a specific temperature to the humidity of objects at the same temperature is called relative humidity.
Round-the-clock changes in relative humidity are the opposite of round-the-clock temperature changes. That is, with increasing temperature, the number of relative humidity decreases and with decreasing temperature, the number of relative humidity increases. This increase and decrease in humidity destroy works of art and history.
Organic materials such as wood, bone, ivory, and paper change shape in the face of moisture, which is due to changes in their cellular tissue. Changes in humidity cause expansion and contraction and finally manifests itself in the form of warping, blowing, wrinkles, and so on. Inorganic (mineral) materials are crushed and degraded by changes in humidity.
The weakening of adhesives, rotting of paper sizing, fading of the ink, mold of leather, sticking of papers to each other, loosening and stretching of the canvas, staining of paper and skin, and progress of metal corrosion are among the effects of moisture on various materials.
In addition to the above, increasing the humidity by providing a suitable environment for the growth of fungi, bacteria, and pests and activating many chemical reactions can destroy the effects.
Temperature changes, in addition to having a direct effect on the destruction of works, also cause the destruction of objects by changing the amount of humidity. High temperature causes degradation by decreasing humidity and increasing dryness, and low temperature (less than a freezing point) by increasing the volume of water. The most significant reason for the destruction of buildings and stone statues is temperature changes.
- Air pollution:
As a result of the reaction of air humidity with gases caused by the different materials, there would be acidic compounds, which cause the destruction of various objects in the open space.
Including air pollutants in the air; Sulfur compounds such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide gas, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, which in combination with air humidity, produce various acids such as sulfuric acid, carbonic acid, and nitric acid. This acid produced is one of the destructive factors. Staining, blackening of lead paints, and darkening of metals are some of the effects of contaminants.
- Light and brightness:
Museum objects are under dangerous situations by light. Light rays cause photochemical changes in the structure of materials (such as the color and texture of fabric and paper). Due to the energy applied to objects, it heats its surface, and heat increases the kinetic energy of molecules, and as a result, physical destruction. Another effect is to create the right conditions for chemical interactions. By breaking the molecular bonds, it prepares it for a chemical reaction. The light emitted from natural or artificial light sources causes various damages. The severity of the destruction depends on the wavelength of the rays hitting the object.
The shorter the wavelength of the beams, the higher its energy, thus increasing its destructive effect organic matter is more sensitive to light than other substances. For example, due to light, the colors of textiles fade, or the paper becomes yellow and brittle.
Ultraviolet rays have the most destructive effect on materials because they have short wavelengths.
Infrared light is the cause of thermal damage. This damage occurs directly or with a change in the humidity of the air or object. The effects of this type of destruction include warping of painted boards and cracking of wood.
- Being buried in the soil:
Organic and mineral matter buried under the soil decomposes due to the type of soil and its moisture and salt content. Salts in the soil break down organic matter. For example, the surface of the glass wears away quickly against the soil, forming thin layers that look like a rainbow.
Among metals, silver, copper, and bronze are more at risk in saline soils. These metals are rapidly converted to chloride by chemical reactions, which damage the surface of objects or corrode metal object.
Water is also one of the destructive factors, and the salts in it destroy various materials such as wood and metals.
As previously described, salts in water react chemically with metals, causing metal objects to decompose and corrode.
- Damages caused by living organisms:
The smaller these creatures, the more surprising their destructive effect. Often they do not exist before destruction occurs. These include bacteria, termites, mice, wood beetles, willows, and other insects. Bacteria can severely damage building stones, walls, and murals. Insects can damage materials such as paper, wood, or fabric.
In addition to the above, other factors such as natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc.), damage caused by war, repair defects, destruction to the works during the movement can destroy works of art.
Restoration is all the actions that are needed to strengthen and perpetuate a work following certain principles.
This knowledge is divided into two main branches, building restoration and object restoration.
In the field of historical monuments, we are dealing specifically with monuments. In the section on the restoration of historical objects, two topics of technology and cognitive damage of historical items are the main topics. The subject of technology deals with the structure of objects and the method of their construction. Based on pathology, the specific damages and destructions of items during the past time is the main subject. Chemical and physical sciences are the basic sciences of conservation and restoration knowledge.
Types of restoration
- Protective restoration:
In this restoration method, the significant purpose is to maintain and protect the work (building). In this restoration method, there is no specific change.
In this restoration approach, the amount of intervention in the existing form and conditions of the work is the main subject. Such that the restored work is similar to the situation at the time of before restoration. Therefore, there are limitations in the application of restoration and protection methods.
That is, every action performance is in a way that the initial conditions before the restoration continue.
- Anastasia Loz:
Anastasia is a style or reconstruction of the architectural space style, reconstruction, and recombination of what remains of ancient architecture.
In other words, stacking the existing works (remnants of the object) in itself so that the shape of their last composition is most similar to the original style of construction.
- Light cleaning:
In this method, additional and they remove heterogeneous extensions with the original shape of an effect. In some cases, it’s essential to add some accessories. In this method, they remove such extensions and restore the initial structure of the object.
- Supplementary restoration:
In this type of rehabilitation, they reconstruct the lost parts of the building or object. In some cases, the deleted area is large and damage the integrity of the effect, which restoration to the missing parts. But in some cases, it is not necessary to do so.
- Historical restoration:
In this way, the goal is to keep historical object alive. In other words, the historical role of the object will determine its restoration method.
- Strengthening restoration:
The purpose of this method is to maintain the endurance of the effect skeleton against forces related to internal functions or external factors such as earthquakes. For example, replacement or local reinforcement of materials, unsuitable and weakened elements, or strengthening of the general skeleton of the object can be a part of this method.
- Comprehensive restoration:
This method is more advanced than other methods and is adjusted according to the characteristics of the work, and using the most appropriate technical principles and suitable materials and materials and preserving the original values of a restoration design work.
Fatima Al Dhaif
Fatima Al Dhaif is a professional and experienced person in the field of preservation and restoration of works of art. She is very interested in managing the collection and preserving the art of cultural masterpieces. She has ten years of international experience in the field of protection and restoration of cultural and artistic works in many parts of the world and preservation and restoration section and in the branch of restoration of historical books (manuscript). She also has volunteer experience in museums in Britain, France, Egypt, and the UAE. She has experience participation in policies, methods, purchases, collection procurement, management of conservation operations, collection evaluation, document registration, CMS in the field of preservation, and maintenance of art collections.
Founder of Kawalees Muthaf, digital content that takes you on a tour of international and local museums in a variety of ways, including conservation, collections, and archeology, arts, and culture.
She believes that cultural heritage is a significant aspect of society and is eager to continue working in a situation that helps manage and preserve the best collection practices in museums and the world of great art.
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