Protecting Public Art With Anti-Graffiti Coatings Varnishing Murals – Testimonial

By Scott M. Haskins, Mural Conservator


Although the mural may seem out of reach, taggers find ways marking community art by shooting the paint with blasters. The graffiti on this mural goes up about 20 feet.

Forethought about protecting murals from graffiti is an essential part of the planning for art in a public place.

First of all, you need to understand the “why” before you can discuss the types of protective varnish to use form anti-graffiti protection.

These insights are offered to you by  the professionals hired by the City of Los Angeles to consult on protecting and preserving art, paintings and murals, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories.

Murals are part of a community’s heritage, part of the architecture, part of a community’s vibe and culture. They are not just a decoration. In the professional mural conservation field, when asked how long should art last, we think in terms of “generations.”

Professionals mural conservators (restorers) are bound by Ethics and Standards of Practice. These standards would theoretically imply:

  1. We do no harm to the original artwork… the materials we use should not cause harm to the original mural as they age or if they have to be removed
  2. This means, also, that anything we do to the mural should be reversible or safely removable in the future… even distant future.

Here’s the problem to be solved: Murals painted in acrylic paint remain very soluble-dissolvable (Keim and oil to a lesser degree but still…) forever. So, cleaning with anything except water is a problem. Of course, none of the stuff sprayed, spilled or deposited on murals is cleanable-removable in water. Solvents and citrus based strippers used to remove graffiti also attack-remove the original paint.

In other words, ANYTHING that is used to varnish the mural, will become part of the mural because it cannot be removed safely (for the artwork). So, let that idea percolate for a moment… if the varnish yellows, that will be the look of the mural in the future and there will be no way possible to remove the yellow. If the varnish cracks and peels (obviously unevenly) then you can’t remove it to redo it later.

This photo shows a hazy brown varnish layer over the artwork.


Despite this warning or inevitable negative situation, some entities have chosen a chemically unstable hard resin “permanent” protective varnish over a chemically stable sacrificial layering of removable or “thinnable” varnish. I think their choice is based on ignorance based on the opinions of non-conservation-preservation services within their bureaucratic channels, not because there has been a logical choice specifically for the benefit of artwork/murals.

The two schools of thought

for the choice of protective layer or varnish are:


  1. The City of Los Angeles has adopted a policy, with the excuse of future minimal maintenance, to use a “permanent” hard coating. The name is “GCP 1000

Polyurethane Topcoat. Here is the link for application instructions. I suppose that because this is a commercial product, that this appeals to bureaucrats. I’ve also been told that some graffiti can be removed from this protective layer with a commercial cleaner called Goo Gone (another long term preservation problem).

The Office of Cultural Affairs chose this material at the recommendation of their graffiti abatement contractor. The photo below shows a brown varnish under the graffiti. This was a permanent hard coating applied over a sacrificial varnish, that was not yellowed or brown.

  1. A “sacrificial” varnish layer is one that is applied so thickly that when tagged, the graffiti can be removed along with a layer of varnish without having to remove all the varnish. This means that the cleaning-removal solutions don’t come into contact with the original paint. After the graffiti removal, the surface needs to be re-protected or in other words, the sacrificial varnish layers need to be reapplied.

The resin used for the sacrificial layers is not a commercially available product, but can be purchased from conservation suppliers. The resin used is Rohm and Haas’ Paraloid B72. We usually spray apply 4 heavy coats of 15% solids (in xylene solvent). Then we follow up with 4-5 coats of 30% applied with rollers as thickly as can be possible applied without creating drips. On the mural in the video below, the artist originally thought to apply the thicker sacrificial layer only up on the wall about 8’. But yielded to reason when I showed him the nefarious techniques some vandals use to spray way up high on walls. So, we applied all the layers over the entire mural.

This photo shows the before and after of removing a decade of graffiti off of a thick protective sacrificial varnish.


Here is a quick video of applying the sacrificial varnish layer to a new mural at street level in Northridge (Los Angeles), CA and a short testimonial for our collaboration.


If you found this article interesting, please leave a constructive comment and give this webpage a “thumbs up.” Thanks!

Contact info for participants on this project

Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro Art Conservators 805 564 3438

Roger Dolan, Lead Artist 818 902 1218

Don Larson, Northridge Beautification Foundation 818 401 5522

Scott Sterling, General Contractor 818 321 8644

About the Author, Scott M. Haskins: Click on this link


805 564 3438


Icons Celebrating the 100 Celebration of the 1916 Uprising in Ireland

The Irish Museum in Albany NY is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the freedom for the Irish with a permanent display of classi-sized memorial portraits of the patriots that began the 1916 Uprising in Ireland. The portraits were painted by renown artist Maureen Gaffney Wolfson.


On tour in Ireland, the paintings were displayed and heralded in the city of Roscommon, at the legislature building organized by Counsillor Orla Leyden and Terry Leyden Trade Minister of Ireland at the time.


Here in the US, the memorial project and the quality art were applauded internationally by the Honorary Consulate General Finbar Hill and Consulate General of Ireland, The Honorable Daniel Mulhall


From left to right : Honorary Consulate General Finbar Hill
Middle is artist Maureen Gaffney Wolfson and on the right is:
Honorable Daniel Mulhall Consulate General of Ireland.


And the icons commemorate the 100 Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising

The artist, Maureen Wolfson’s fame began within the modeling world which opened the door to a reoccurring role on the Red Skelton Show, which she kept for four years. Leaving in 1968 while being a regular on the show, Maureen’s movie career began to blossom. She landed roles in “Swinging Summer” with Raquel Welch, “Harlow” with Carol Lindley, and “Guide for a Married Man” directed by Gene Kelley and staring Sid Caesar and Wally Cox. In between movies, she returned to television, making appearances on the Perry Mason, Raymond Burr and Danny Kay shows.

In 1978, Maureen moved from Los Angeles to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League under Thomas Fogerty and David Laffell where she learned the basic techniques of lighting and working with live models that laid the foundation for a lifelong career in painting. In 1983, Maureen received the Woman Artist of the Year Award from the International Beaux Arts Inc. Her artwork is praised and in the collections of high government officials in the US and Ireland, of the Hollywood elite and numerous public collections.

The prospect of and energy for the creation of this monumental tribute to Irish Independence was a natural passion the artist lives for her ancestral homeland and the expression of gratitude for her history. Every aspect of the creation of her paintings is carefully detailed in composition and construction. It is the quality of her passionate efforts that have defined her very well deserved public image and career.

For example, Ms. Wolfson sought out the services of one of the most well known art conservation labs in the country, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories to assist her in the varnishing and final touches of her artwork to make sure they looked perfect and would last generations. Here is an example of the decision making process and testing she undertook for quality control:


The Easter Rising was the most significant uprising in Ireland against the British since the rebellion of 1798. Also known as the Easter Rebellion, the 1916 armed insurrection in Ireland was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in the First World War.

This series of commemorative paintings celebrates the martyrs of independence.

The Irish American Heritage Museum has an educational mission that preserving one’s heritage is vital to providing a cultural and historical foundation to future generations of Americans. It was organized in 1986 by the New York State American-Irish Legislators Society and was initially financed by the State Natural Heritage Trust, the State Council on the Arts, and numerous private donations. In 1992, the museum was permanently chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York as a non-profit. The museum was relocated to downtown Albany in 2012 where the 3,250 square foot space includes the Paul O’Dwyer Library and the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ archives. The museum is currently a member of The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association.



For more about Fine Art Conservation Laboratories:

805 564 3438

Click here for more information about the artwork of Maureen Gaffney Wolfson



Smoke, Mud and Mold Damaged Artwork! Will Montecito Collections Survive? 3 Tips to Save Your Treasured Items


By Marissa Condie, UC Santa Barbara, Conservation Scientist Intern

Montecito, California was recently the center of two major natural disasters over the course of a few weeks. The Thomas Fire covered Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in ash and smoke. Close on the fire’s heels, a mudslide filled commercial and residential buildings with boulders, mud, and debris. 1,000’s of home were impacted and 100’s damaged badly or obliterated by the boulders being pushed by the mudslides. Without minimizing the apocalyptic conditions that resulted and the impact on personal lives and the community, this article deals with professional services response for saving, protecting and restoring collectibles, artwork and family history items.


Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL), is located only a mile or so from the site of the mudslides.  Calls came in almost immediately… “I currently do not have access to my home, but I know there is damaged artwork… family and I escaped, and we brought one painting with us… home is four feet deep in mud, can my artwork be saved?” At FACL the art conservators are not only equipped to answer these questions, but immediately began to respond to Montecito’s crisis by doing what they do best, saving art.See the short video at the end of this article.

One homeowner that contacted FACL to assist with their disaster response had received a double hit. First, smoke from the Thomas Fire heavily damaged their home. Then, the mudslide left a three-foot mudline throughout the first floor of their home. Smoke, generally, heavily acidifies all paper and fabric materials in the house including framed prints (that appear sealed) hanging on the wall. This chemical process, that if not treated, can begin to yellow the paper perceptively within the year. The ever-present odor of a wildfire also seeps into the canvas works of art and the wooden frames.


In the “mud zone,” many of these pieces were splattered with mud. Luckily, some of the artwork hanging on the walls was physically untouched by mud, but, as the mud below it started to dry, the drastic swing in humidity began wrinkling the paper and growing mold. In their overwhelming situation, these homeowners took the best step they could have taken and called the conservators at FACL. In the hands of these experts, all of these issues, paper acidity, odor, and wrinkling, are completely treatable. When the rebuilding process is complete, this family’s artwork will be ready to return to the walls of their home.

Another home that contacted the conservators at FACL were also affected by fire and water, but in a peculiar way. The family evacuated for an extended period of time due to the Thomas fire. While they were away, a breeze through a kitchen window knocked over a cutting board, which knocked a potted plant over plugging the drain in the sink, which caused the kitchen water faucet to turn on. It blasted water, at full pressure, for the rest of the evacuation. Besides finding extensive smoke damage upon their return, the family found that their house had experienced a massive flood. The artwork in the home needed special attention, which the conservators at FACL were able to provide including interfacing with the insurance claims adjuster, packing up and storing the artwork during renovation, clean-up of the artwork and redelivery with the care these types of items require.


In the photo on the right: the fire created a pyroclastic cloud over the areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara. Ash fell on residents for 3-4 weeks

Art conservators are able to use their expertise to guide and aid a community’s disaster response. The timing and nature of a natural disaster can never be predicted, as the Montecito community experienced. Even within this sobering fact, here are 3 tip precautions that can be taken to ease the extent of damage to artwork during a natural disaster:

  1. Make sure that a treasured piece of artwork is hung on a wall, or safely stored off the ground at all times. Piled in a corner is a bad idea. In a flood or mudslide, this simple act can make all the difference.
  2. Keep copies of all legal documents and policies in another location. While you may think you can get a copy of your policy from your agent, if the disaster is community wide, there may be a backlog of activity that will keep you from getting the speedy response you desire.
  3. The longer the art waits, uncleaned, the more damage is occurring. This leads to a third suggestion, which is to contact a professional art conservator as soon as possible after a natural disaster. An art conservator can help you differentiate, also, for your disaster response company, what can be hit by a mop and what requires special handling and attention.

Questions? Call Fine Art Conservation Laboratories at 805 564 3438 faclartdoc@gmail.comScott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro – Art Conservators. Andrew Jacobs, Disaster Response Services Coordinator


Click on this link for a short video.

What treasured family keepsakes, art and collectibles

can be saved from such a disaster?!?!

Saving a Whimsical Mural of an Animal Circus


by Flora Arguilla, UC Santa Barbara, Art History Dept, Art Conservation Intern

The destruction of Hubbell Reed McBride’s mural, Animal Circus, would have meant the tragic loss of a whimsical, colorful, and beautifully detailed historical painting that everyone from children to adults has enjoyed for decades. People who care about artistic and historical heritage, professional art conservation technology and extensive mural restoration expertise made the preservation of this masterpiece possible.


It was created in 1940, with oil paint on canvas adhered to a wall using a technique called marouflaged and is 6 ft high and 27 ft long!

Some of the first things that come to mind while looking at this marvelous work of art are the words “cute” and “fun!” The artistic quality of this piece

and the enjoyable subject matter is unparalleled — if you don’t believe me, do a Google search for “animal circus murals”. No other mural of the same quality even comes close. The fact that it was made specifically for the enjoyment of children makes it even more endearing.

When the building that the mural was original located was demolished decades later, the technique of gluing the canvas the wall with starch paste turned out to be a life saver for the mural. Fortunately, the mural on canvas was able to be taken off and saved it. Though badly damaged with the inept removal technique, it survived until it could get professional mural conservation treatments.

Although the mural was in storage in Denver, the owner’s searched nationally for a mural restoration expert who was experienced in treating such large paintings. A knowledgeable contact in Santa Fe, NM referred them to Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL) in Santa Barbara, CA who was, at the time, just finishing up on the lining (backing) and conservation of three 30 foot paintings for the State of Texas.


The mural’s cracking and flaking was stabilized and the painting was backed with a stiff support to prevent distortions in the mural and prepared it for reinstallation. Once treated Animal Circus was preserved for generations to come.


A Short Biography on HR McBride (1892-1960)

As a boy, Hubbell grew up in Mansfield, Ohio and developed a talent for drawing animals that made people smile. He came to understand that art has the ability to touch the lives of millions of people. After high school, he found a job in Cleveland, making illustrations for a newspaper syndicate, but they eventually let him go. After a year there, he had gained enough confidence to try the big market in New York.

Fortunately, this led to him become friends with the founder of Editor and Publisher magazine. He had established connections in the industry, and for the next 25 years he distinguished himself as cover artist and illustrator for several top Hearst publications

like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, as well as the Saturday Evening Post and Liberty & Collier’s Weekly Magazine.

Although he had a taste of the fast-paced life of a professional artist in New York, something that some people could only dream of, he walked away from his successful illustrator’s career to spend his life in rural America in order to put smiles into the lives of everyone who encountered his playful images in that region.


His work is easily recognizable for its warm humor, and for animals with memorable personalities. With a wealth of experience in graphic arts, McBride was a gift to the community in the 40s and 50s, painting a wide canvas of all sorts: from sacred scenes in the First Congregational Church in Lexington, to background drops for the Mansfield Players and Children’s Theater. Cartoon farm animals were undoubtedly a fan favorite, even from his very earliest works. In his drawings, McBride showcased the whimsical personalities and characteristics of the animals he was familiar with in his drawings, while also adding a touch of fun by drawing the animals with funny faces.

In the 1940s Reed McBride painted several murals in Richland County that became well-known landmarks in stores, churches and the Municipal Building. Below is a mural he created for the Ven-Mar market on Marion Avenue.


Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon Art Conservators 805 564 3438

For more information, check out these links!

Buck Winn Murals for the State of Texas

FACL’s mural capability statement:

FACL’s mural consultation statement:

FACL videos of mural conservation capabilities:

Hope for Damaged Art and Collectibles in Mud and Flood

Saving collectibles, art and family history items damaged in floods and mud.  Click on SHOW MORE


Call Andrew Jacobs, Disaster Response Services Coordinator on his mobile at 812 639 3681 or art conservators Virginia Panizzon and Oriana Montemurro at 805 564 3438


Disaster response companies have procedures and techniques for dealing with the damage caused by water. But heirlooms, collectibles, art and antiques are a special category that requires special considerations and handling. The added problems these types of items have are many:

  1. Your are likely more emotional over these items than other types of contents.
  2. 2 sometimes art and antiques have such high value that there is a serious amount of liability
  3. The construction and materials of these types of items require specialized knowledge to properly treat.


Fine Art Conservation Laboratories has many many years of experience in working on these types of items. We are offering to be your expert and help you with these types of valuable items. Here are the services that we often provide:

1 evaluations and estimates of damaged items.

2 preparations of reports for the claims adjuster.

3 pick up and redelivery of the items being treated.

  1. we will handle all issues with the insurance company


Here is a testimonial from a client in Las Vegas who was told by his disaster response company that they did not handle fine artwork. He was left to find an expert on his own:



Water Damage of artwork – Testimonial:

Our Reputation in the LA Area:

Determining pre-existing conditions:

Problems on paintings:

Testimonial from Appraiser:

Save Your Stuff Author:



Call Andrew Jacobs, Disaster Response Services Coordinator on his mobile at 812 639 3681 or art conservators Virginia Panizzon and Oriana Montemurro at 805 564 3438


Website: –

Email :;


Ventura, Santa Barbara Thomas Fire Smoke Damage and Montecito Mudslide Restoration of Artwork, Antiques and Collectibles

By Scott M. Haskins, Art Conservator




The situation was horrific and lasted for more than a month. Now that the danger is past, the entire area is recouping. After family members and pets are accounted for, the next items of concern are the family’s valuables and family history heritage items that make up the family’s memories. If insurance is going to meet the demands of the damage, then these items, sometimes of little financial value and cannot be replaced, become of great concern.


Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL) experts haveprofessional methods, knowledge and a special division of services to offer families, business’, insurance claim adjusters and disaster response contractors to help respond professionally to the care, restoration and conservation of artwork, collectibles, keepsakes and antiques: Here’s a quick video (click on this link):



Disaster Response Art Restoration Experts





There are family heirlooms, art, antiques, family history items and treasures that can still be saved and preserved in very good condition in a house that is in this situation! Use care in the removal process. Their preservation can make all the difference for the owners in emotionally recouping from this disaster for years/decades to come. Wow, what a photo above!

Don’t know what to do, need help with questions about insurance claims?


ProBono, expert art conservation advice.


Call Andrew Jacobs on his mobile. 812 639 3681


Over 1000 structures were lost in the firestorm driven by 40-70 mph winds in the backcountry of Ventura and Santa Barbara, CA at the end of 2017. The Thomas Fire was classified as the largest wildfire (acreage) in the history of California. which threatened densely populated areas prompting the mandatory evacuation of more than 16,000 residents with many more voluntarily leaving for more than a couple of weeks. Even though the fire was not driven into the cities, the wind blew smoke and ash onto 100,000s of local residents and polluted skies northward past San Francisco, 600 miles away where I was visiting and saw first hand.


After a few days of the most aggressive advancement of the fire, 6″ of rain fell in a few hours in the mountains causing a catastrophic mudslide which pushed before it 10’ diameter boulders, autos, trees through houses in the Montecito suburb all the way to the beaches and closed the main artery 101 freeway for weeks. The final toll was 23 dead and billions of dollars of damage.


This mudslide in Montecito, CA was the result of extensive fires in the mountains above the city. When the rains came soon after, all of this came down onto the residential area.


Dozens of insurance claims to reclaim these types of items have been settled with the help of evaluations and inspections by FACL of smoked artwork, sculptures, family photos, model train sets, ceramics and collectibles… all of the cherished items that make up a family’s heritage and history.


Once such family has been in the railroad business for 4 generations and you can image that connection they feel with their family’s memorabilia! What a heartbreak to see the damage but what a wonderful moment to share with them how everything can be cleaned up to good and new.




We are prepared to handle the logistics and treatments of many items at once. We help compile inventories and reports for insurance reporting. We can re-hang the artwork and secure art objects for seismic safety.We are easy to communicate with and we can provide door to door service even over long distances.


Let’s Talk! Contact us:

Andrew Jacobs, Disaster Response Services Coordinator

812 639 3681 mobile




This painting required a double cleaning in order to remove the smoke and debris “safely.” No original paint was removed and the full value was returned.


Here are some testimonials and examples

of our work with other disaster response companies:


Smoke Damage (Testimonial):


Smoke Damage – Elite Restoration – Blog Post:


Water Damage (Testimonial Mrs. Dau):


Water Damage (Testimonial Las Vegas):


Damage in Storage – Rip Repair:


Expert Author – Tom Antion Hurricane Testimonial:



Andrew Jacobs, Disaster Response Services Coordinator

812 639 3681 mobile


We got our first call from a resident in the mudslide area today; 3 ft of mud… in the house! Unbelievably, they got out with the bare minimum… and their favorite painting… but there is a house of family memories to save as soon as they (and we) are let back in.

The mud on this painting smells like sewage. Its always a good precaution to protect your health when handling items from a mudslide in inhabited areas.




The mud etc can be removed safely from this artwork and is completely recoverable. Another day has passed and I’ve inspected about 25 works of art, all cleanable and can be returned to pre-disaster condition.


Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro

Art Conservators

805 564 3438 office

Smoke Damaged Art Restoration PuroClean Paramedics Testimonial

This is a PuroClean testimonial of working with Fine Art Conservation Laboratories: Click on SHOW MORE

PuroClean works with art restoration specialist Scott M. Haskins to properly handle and treat sensitive collectibles and art.

Questions about restoring your art? Call Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro Art Conservators at 805 564 3438

Contact PuroClean Paramedics for disaster response/clean up all over SoCal done right: Phone: (909) 360-5300

See our channel for more educational videos:

Clean An Oil Painting – Authentication And Analysis Can Over-restored art (repainted) be saved?

Lots of well-intentioned people think that restoring artwork is like “fixing” anything else. Chief culprits are artists who think that because they can paint a painting, they can restore any painting.  We’ll, for #1, they have no idea why works of art fall apart. And, of course, they have no idea as to the aging problems of the materials/supplies they use for restoring. But most importantly, they don’t honor or respect the original creation, historical value or aesthetics, even if they are flawed (in their opinion).


These photos got viral international fame when the painting on the left was restored – the final result is on the right. Yes, this is THE ACTUAL APPEARANCE OF THE artwork AFTER RESTORATION!! You might say, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!!!” This got a lot of outrage…. and then hilarious parody responses from the public…


Artists put there own vibe on other artist’s artwork they restore

Before and After Restoration of Warhol’s iconic Marilyn



Wonder Woman has been busy lately saving the world and now she’s doing art restoration on ancient statues at the Met and saving the world’s heritage too. I’m glad that she sees saving our heritage as an important work worthy of her time and she’s amazing at beating up the bad guys but would you want her “delicate touch” and “trained eye” to restore your artwork?! I don’t recall that education or experience being part of her training on the hidden lost island of Amazon Warrior Women.


What people fear if the Mona Lisa were restored


Did you like the last restoration of Leonardo’s Last Supper?


On a more serious, real note…. In the news recently: the past restoration work on the painting Salvador Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci was so extensive and poorly done that it was no longer attributed to him. The only way to recoup the value? Remove all the restorations and see what was left by the Master. Photo on left is the painting after the past restorations were removed; photo on right is after the careful and excellent quality recent painting conservation treatments that allowed for the artwork to sell at Christies in Nov. 2017 for $430 million.


Salvador Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci

You may think this is funny! But the sad thing is

that it happens all the time!




We just returned this completed portrait to her family a short time ago…

On the left is the photo of how the painting looked AFTER restoration when it came back from a “professional” Russian restorer in the Los Angeles area not long ago! IT DIDN’T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THEIR GRANDMOTHER! As you might imagine, the family was crushed, as they thought the original, cherished oil painting of their dear grandmother was damaged beyond repair and lost forever. On the right is our after-restoration photo of the ancestral portrait,  AFTER all the previous “restoration” was removed and the original portrait was recuperated. You should have seen the owner’s/family’s faces!

This exquisite Madonna and Child Spanish Colonial painting in the Franciscan archives of California is another sad story of botched over-restored valuable art. Look closely, especially at the details of the child Jesus… it looks as bad as “Behold the Monkey!!!”

 The photo on the left is the “restored”- repainted old master.


After we cleaned off all the repainting to re-reveal the original, we then properly stabilized deterioration, cleaned the underlying “gunk,” carefully and discretely inpainted only the paint losses, being careful to not slop over onto the original. Conservation grade varnish layers allowed the painting to glow and look its best. The photo on the right of the face shows the final results after conservation. Look how many wonderful details reappeared!!! Repainting a work of art as an excuse for “restoration” is, of course something that kills the value of the original: Its no longer by the artist, its no longer from the period or age of the original.

Several different kinds of analysis can help reveal the original details of over-restored art, helping in authentication.

Through analysis, the Charles Dickens Museum in London found out that they own an original portrait by an important Victorian artist. The bad news is that it is almost entirely hidden under layers of overpainting across most of the surface, which covers up to 70% of the original vintage, historic, valuable artwork including most of the face. The repainting is believed to be an attempt to mask the damage caused by an equally disastrous attempt to clean the picture, long before it came to the museum.

Extensive tests at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, the conservation department of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge included X-radiography, ultraviolet visible fluorescence and infrared reflectography (which we do in our lab) which were used to see the underlying details better.

Cindy Sughrue, director of the museum, hopes to raise the money for full restoration of the painting. “This has been an interesting process to say the least, and one that has seen us swinging from despair to elation.”

“Anyone could see looking at it that it wasn’t quite right – one conservator commented that she looks more like a southern belle – but until we got the scans back it was hard to say exactly what had happened to it,” Price said. “It’s a great relief to know that most of the original painting is still there and we should be able to recover it.”


Thomas Rebok, Art Conservator in S. Africa:

photographed the removal of one portrait from off of another portrait.

For more on IR, click here:–-a-short-video/

For in on UV, click here:

To discuss the value of your painting, call my friend Scot Levitt at Bonhams Auction House in Los Angeles. Tell him Scott Haskins sent you. I promise, he’ll be nice to you! 323 436 5425

Art conservation – restoration questions?

Call Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon – Art Conservators

 Tel 805 564 3438

Art appraisal questions?

Call Richard Holgate, Certified Appraiser 805 895 5121

See a tour of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (CLICK HERE)

Leave a comment.

Follow us on Facebook. Click on one of these links and be our friend:

As I said before, this isn’t such an uncommon thing and something horrific usually happens when do-it-your-selfers start restoring historical items (there are standards, guidelines, ethics to follow). While its better than a monkey face, it still is a laugh:


Water Damaged Treasured Family Keepsakes, Collectibles and Artwork

A short video, a new app and some good advice


Click here for video

When treasured family history documents, photos, heirlooms, memorabilia etc are wet, in some way or another, priorities need to kick in. But what makes an item valuable enough to rescue?

Remember that value is more than just financial. “Don’t save that stupid thing of your mother’s” may indeed be the most important thing you have to pass down to children, has extreme value emotionally and for story-telling value. Add to your story of saving it from the flood and you will really make it an important item for future generations!

“The affection people feel for the art objects they own can be intense, and seeing those objects hurt or destroyed can be intensely traumatic. Take a step back, breathe, and assess yourself,” said Kala Harinarayanan,  Director of Environmental Health and Safety at the American Museum of Natural History, speaking at the Consortium on Recovery of Works of Art Damaged by Flooding. It wasn’t too surprising that a conference held at the Museum of Modern Art on how to deal with damaged artwork in the wake of hurricanes and winter storms, at times, felt like a group-therapy session.

At the same conference, renown industrial hygienist Monona Russol reminded people, “Among the most common and pernicious effects of flooding is mold. She pulled up a slide of a wooden sculpture covered in white mold—a victim of Hurricane Katrina. “One problem with mold, she said, is that it can take months to manifest itself. You might think you’ve dodged a bullet,” she said, “but you’ll have problems later on, especially in summer.”

Jim Coddington, a MoMA conservator, had been orbiting the scene like a priest at a church shelter.

“It’s true, some things may be lost,” he said. “But don’t make that assumption until you’ve been able to step back and get some expert eyes on it.”

There’s two (or maybe 3) parts to protecting and saving water damaged keepsakes: 1. Emergency actions and 2. Longer term preservation… and if you want, you can add a third step – restoration. Getting professional help may be your salvation.


For emergency response and saving of “valuable” items that make up your family’s heritage, this app may be useful:

Emergency Response and Salvage Mobile App, is a handy mobile tool (which doesn’t work on a MAC) created by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. Although designed for museum professionals, the free app offers useful information for anyone dealing with water damage.

To help keep precious items safe from the storm, here are some tips from experts:

  1. The Most Important Things First
  • People and pets are most important. Helping others is good for your soul.
  • Protect your property/home, equipment etc

  1. First thing – Get Organized
  • Make sure the gas and electricity are turned off and that the area is cleared for re-entry before you begin to assess damage.
  • A little extra planning at the beginning will go a long way—especially for insurance purposes. Document the situation as you go: Take pictures and keep notes for reference.
  • Cool and dry spaces are the best spots to examine objects. If you can, keep air circulating with fans.
  • A mixture of seven parts alcohol and one part water is effective for mold prevention, Steve Pine, a conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houstontold the Houston Chronicle. But be mindful: Flood water can contain hazardous materials, so wear safety masks and gloves before handling anything that has been submerged.

  1. Take Extra Care with Framed Paintings and Works on Paper
  • Be careful with old frames. If they are wet, they will fall apart in your hands. It will cost $1,000’s to repair or replace.
  • Handling artwork on canvas can be very tricky especially is flaking paint is visible. BE CAREFUL. In the blink of an eye you can ruin the value, increase the repair costs by $1,000 or turn it to trash. See the video below!
  • Immediately take the work out of the frame, but do not separate paintings from their stretchers.
  • Keep wet paintings horizontal, with the paint-side up, preferably elevated. Keep them out of heat or sunlight.
  • If the work is stuck to the glass of the frame, do not try to peel it apart. Leave it in the frame to dry with the glass side down.

  1. Soggy Photos? Do Not Despair
  • Wet photographs that are stuck together should be immersed in clean water and swished around until they come apart. Then, lay them out to dry.
  • If the photographs are damp or partially wet, experts have a secret weapon to salvage them: the freezer. Interleave the photos with wax paper, place them in resealable bags, and freeze them until you can spread them out to thaw and dry. Textiles can also be frozen after being briefly submerged in clean water.
  • The air-dry technique is another tried-and-true method favored by museum conservators. Place an absorbent material (such as un-inked newsprint, paper towels, or blotters) underneath wet objects. Then, lay them out in a cool, dry space stocked with fans. Do not hang wet items, as they will be unlikely to remain intact.

  1. Freeze Your Wet Books, Too
  • If you have more than one book stuck together, rinse off any grime while the books remain closed. Then, pack them spine down in a re-sealable bag or sturdy container and put them in the freezer.
  • Individual books can be air-dried, standing upright.

More on this info at


Click on picture for YouTube testimonial

Working nationwide on damaged murals and disaster response for artwork

Contact Info:

Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro, Painting Conservators

805 564 3438