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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      What unexpected thing have you learned by working at a museum?

      The more time you take with the art, the better. 

      The first time I saw a work by James Turrell, my eyes totally deceived me. I walked into the room (Acton, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art) and saw a gray rectangle “painting,” but I was baffled and could not figure it out—I got closer and closer until my face was pressed against the wall next to it, trying to figure out what it was. When my friend stuck her arm into the painting and revealed the illusion (a square cut into the wall and lit to look flat), my mind was blown! You got me so good, James.

      Also, always offer to take a family photo for the tourists!

      What do you wish you could tell all people about yourself, museums, or life? 

      Everyone is creative.

      Emily, Education Technologist at the Getty, July 24, 2014

      07/29/14

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