University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: Collection

Planning and experimentation

By: Lynn Grant

We have spent the last few days reviewing our plans for filling the gaps and our colleagues have been experimenting with materials to do the first part of the filling. Julie and I had identified three sorts of fills to be done: structural fills of large missing areas (yellow in photograph); small cosmetic fills along […]


By: Lynn Grant

Yesterday we welcomed our five colleagues from China who will be helping us with the final restoration phase of the conservation project.  Sponsored by the Shaanxi Tang Daming Palace Heritage Site Preservation Foundation, they will be in the US for approximately four weeks.  We spent the day getting to know one another and discussing our […]

Reinstalling the horses

By: Lynn Grant

Well, last week was pretty exciting.  The armature arrived on Tuesday in small enough bundles to actually be manageable.  On Wed. morning, Harry Gordon, the rigger arrived with 3 helpers, a loaded flatbed truck with boom crane and a very full cargo van.  Unloading took about 2 hours, not helped by a misbehaving freight elevator […]

April 2010

By: Lynn Grant

Once the reliefs had been mended into their three main segments each, we were able to schedule the re-installation for early May. To prepare for it, Julie did some final cleaning and the riggers came back for a day to lift up the five base pieces so we going insert epoxy putty under them to […]

February 2010: Mending begins

By: Lynn Grant

Finally, in February, it was time to start putting the reliefs back together.  There were three levels of joining: small mends; medium mends, and major mends.  For us conservators, the medium and major mends had been a matter of discussion since the earliest phases of the project.  Our original plan was to use reversible adhesives […]

Fall 2009: Armature design

By: Lynn Grant

While cleaning continued, we began planning for the new armature that would support and stabilize the reliefs.  Since August, when we got accurate weights on all the pieces, it had been clear that we could not put the reliefs back together permanently as each relief weighed approximately 9000 lbs and we would not be able […]

August 2009: Disassembly

By: Lynn Grant

After a long and fraught hunt, we located a rigging firm with art experience and the right equipment for our problem pieces (a cantilever gantry). But they were completely booked for the next six weeks, so we weren’t able to disassemble and move the reliefs until the end of August. We still had no idea […]

April, 2009: Conservation begins

By: Lynn Grant

Julie began working on the reliefs in situ in the Harrison Rotunda in April. The work location was a no-brainer, since we didn’t know how to move them or have any place to take them (they definitely wouldn’t fit in our Conservation Lab, even if we could have gotten them there).  Our carpenter built us […]

What Came Before

By: Lynn Grant

The stone reliefs depicting two of the favorite horses of Emperor Taizong (r. 626-649) are among the Museum’s greatest treasures. They had been on exhibit in the Harrison Rotunda for at least 75 years. In 2008, a request for loan of the artifacts led to their being closely examined. That examination showed that the mending, […]

Good questions!

By: Maureen Callahan

I recently received a very thoughtful email from a reader (a graduate student in a museum studies program) who had some questions about what we do here at the archives — I thought that I would post his thoughts and my replies for our readers’ edification. His email: Hello. I am a graduate student taking […]

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