Behind The Scenes: The Team Working to Prepare Claude Monet's Water Lilies for Travel

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Behind The Scenes: The Team Working to Prepare Claude Monet's Water Lilies for Travel

By Kesha Williams
Digital Communications Manager

We're preparing to loan one of our visitor favorites, Claude Monet's Water Lilies (Agapanthus) , to two Missouri museums over the next year. There are many people at the museum are working behind the scenes to prepare the painting before it heads to Kansas City. Learn more about them and their role in the project.

Paintings conservator Dean Yoder will examine the painting and document the condition. If he finds any insecurity in the paint layer, he'll introduce a consolidating adhesive to stabilize the area. This process is called consolidation. The painting appears to be in good condition, but he and his team are paying special attention to the bottom of the painting where the paint had been previously abraded or rubbed by the frame. Kress Fellow Eileen Sullivan will assist Yoder with the examination, documentation and consolidation of the painting.

Conservation photographer Joan Neubecker will take photos of areas of the painting, which is currently divided into a grid of 84 sections. In this case, the conservation photography will focus on documenting the condition of the highly textured and complex layering of the paint. The involvement of her work in this project is to show the before, during and after stages of the painting in preparation for travel. If consolidation is required, notations will be made on the images to document the exact areas of treatment. Neubecker's images will be captured to correspond to the 84 images from an X-ray of the entire painting captured last month. The X-ray scans will result in very large files because each 13” x 16” section equals 152MB. The photographic documentation of the painting will also assist conservators at the other two museums in evaluating the condition post travel.

Conservation technician James George will create new light-weight, stretcher inserts to secure the painting for travel over the course of the next few weeks. The inserts are designed to fit inside the stretcher bar cavities to prevent the canvas from oscillating and vibrating during travel.

Packing specialist Marty Ackley will construct a special travel frame and crate specifically designed for the work. Part of a triptych, the painting will return to the museum in 2015, with its two companions from the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., and the St. Louis Art Museum.