Museums are banding together to bring attention to an important issue facing artist Michael Heizer’s sculpture CITY in the Nevada Desert. Heizer is nearing completion of his dramatic, monumental sculpture—a massive, 1.5-mile-long collection of abstract forms he has developed over the last 43 years. The land surrounding Heizer’s sculpture has faced numerous threats of development into military testing and nuclear waste sites. Help protect this area to preserve Heizer’s life’s work. 

[Michael Heizer. CITY. Photos by Tom Vinetz, © Triple Aught Foundation]

One of the problems with adaptive repurposement of a building like Athens State Hospital is that, when they built the asylum in the 19th century, most - if not all - walls were load-bearing.  They supported the weight of the buildings in the days before steel beams and modern construction techniques.  Masonry buildings may last just about forever if properly maintained - unlike modern buildings - but proper maintenance is no easy task.  Take a look at this room, dimly lit through an almost-completely-drawn orange curtain.  It’s about six feet wide, fifteen feet long, and has fourteen-foot ceilings.  Not exactly easy to use as is - and you can’t knock out a wall to combine it with the next room over.  But creative architects in places like Buffalo and Traverse City are finding ways to reuse Kirkbride buildings - and I hope for complete preservation of this building as well!

Print available here.


February marks the 500th anniversary of Aldus Manutius’ death, so we’ll be posting blogs about his works throughout the month.

This edition of The Iliad was printed in 1504 by Aldus Manutius. His goal was to print versions of classic works into languages more people could read, and into books people could actually carry around. 

This book is interesting because of all of the conservation efforts it has endured. The piece of paper on the inside of the front cover of the box details the different measures taken, including rebinding the book that was in a broken 19th century binding and pulling, washing and de-acidifying the paper. Conservation efforts today at the University of Iowa are usually less invasive and try to preserve the condition of the binding and paper without changing it, as long as it can still be used. While this book is much sturdier than others of the same age due to its gorgeous new binding, some of the signs of the age of the paper are lost on the reader because of the washing. 

If you’re looking for more information on Aldus Manutius, check out our blog!


Homer.  Homērou Ilias = Homeri Ilias.  [Venice : Aldus, 1504]

PA4018 A2 1504 


Happy Birthday, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area! 

Designated this day in 2000, more than 45,000 acres of Arizona’s Pima and Santa Cruz counties are protected as a BLM-managed National Conservation Area.  With rolling grasslands and mountain ranges, lush riparian corridors, and the Cienega Creek, the NCA supports a diverse plant and animal community.  

Located in the heart of the Las Cienegas NCA, the historic Empire Ranch Headquarters includes a 22-room adobe and wood-frame building which dates to 1870 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The setting makes it a favorite of classic western film fans. Red River, Duel in the Sun, Hombre, Winchester 73, The Big Country, and many others were filmed on or near the Empire Ranch - still a working cattle ranch to this day.

Learn more about Las Cienegas NCA and the Empire Ranch.

New Preservative Could Save Ancient Ships For Archaeologists

A novel polymer network that soaks into wood and provides artefacts with structural support while simultaneously protecting against biological degradation has been developed by scientists in the UK. The team say the polymer network could be a ‘one-stop’ material for tackling the main issues conservators face when treating and drying historical objects.

Large wooden artefacts such as the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s famous flagship, are currently treated with a polyethylene glycol (PEG) spray to prevent the wood from shrinking as it dries out. PEG works by replacing the water held by cells within the wood, which have been hollowed out over the years by marine bacteria. Read more.

From Von Hagens Körperwelten (bodyworlds) exhibition.

Plastination is a technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts, first developed by Gunther von Hagens in 1977. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample.