Aluminum: History, Technology, and Conservation

Published by the Smithsonian

EverGreene is proud to announce the publication of a new volume of “Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation” series that brings together papers presented at the first-ever conservation conference solely dedicated to aluminum – “Aluminum: History, Technology and Conservation” – held at the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum in 2014. The paper features the work coauthored by Mark Rabinowitz (EverGreene’s VP of Conservation, Principal Conservator, and AIC – Fellow) and Joseph Sembrat (EverGreene’s VP of Conservation, Principal Conservator, MSHP, CAPC, CAHP, and AIC – Fellow), who hold decades of experience in the conservation field and are accomplished authors and presenters of topical industry-relevant issues.

The paper provides a summary of the historic research and treatment work performed as a part of a remarkable project that EverGreene worked on – the restoration and survey of over 900 aluminum windows and over 30 night doors at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, DC, the design of which was somewhat of an inventive foray into a still relatively novel material at the time. Years of exposure and repeated use have taken their toll on the windows leading to various forms of material degradation and performance-related issues. Our conservators developed a glossary of conditions, identifying the range of typical conditions affecting the windows and doors that was the basis of our survey. A comprehensive matrix was developed so that survey data could be recording directly in the field in real time. This survey will help cost estimators, conservators, architects, and the General Services Administration consider the scope, logistics, and costs of a major window restoration to be performed in the future. The paper features the study, analysis, and treatments used to restore the doors to their original appearance as both decorative objects and functional elements, as well as the challenges of navigating a complex array of logistics ranging from security concerns, complex rigging issues, and the practical issues of maintaining consistency on multiple sets of doors of large size.