Behind the Scenes, Conservation, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

All Shook Up! Protecting Art in an Earthquake

When you look at sculpture in the Getty Museum’s galleries, you wouldn’t guess that some of the pedestals are somewhat unusual. Under their polished veneer, they’re engineered to protect art from the movements caused by earthquakes.

Many museums in California and other parts of the world, including Italy, Greece, and Japan, are located in areas prone to seismic activity—and their collections have suffered a great deal as a result. The Getty has devised pioneering mechanisms that safely stabilize vulnerable artworks.

Working closely with our conservators, we created this animation demonstrating technology the Museum uses to mitigate earthquake damage to vulnerable objects. How do the earth’s movements during an earthquake affect intrinsically unstable works of art? And what can be done to protect them? Hold onto your seats and watch.

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One Comment

  1. Karol Wight
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    This is a fantastic way to demonstrate how the seismic isolation devices developed at the Getty Museum function.

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    • photo from Tumblr

      What can you hear at the museum?

      Artist Elana Mann creates participatory sonic experiences and invites you to listen in. More on the Iris.

      • How do sounds change depending on your body position, your direction, your eyes open or closed, or the position of the histophone? 
      • Can you imagine sounds coming from the art, architecture, and gardens?
      • If a sculpture could speak, what would it say? 
      • What are sounds you can make with your own body? 
      • Can you hear the tectonic plates shifting underneath your feet? 
      • How are natural and man-made sounds mixing and blending in this environment? 

      A list of the sounds that have reverberated through my body, 2013, Elana Mann. Cut photographs on paper. 

      07/21/14

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