Getty announces international project to study Soviet-era plastics
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, July 13, 2024

Getty announces international project to study Soviet-era plastics
Spielzeugauto Kybernet (a toy car), VEB Piko Sonneberg 1974 © Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum, A. Laurenzo.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- A children’s barbershop play set, a stylish watering can, a Space Age pedicure kit, and an egg-shaped garden chair are just some of the everyday objects from the former East Germany that hold outsized importance, as scientists use them to learn more about how plastic production and design were shaped behind the Iron Curtain.

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has partnered with Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum in Munich, the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Los Angeles and the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences to launch German Democratic Plastics in Design, a project looking at how Soviet-era plastics were made and valued.

These institutions are studying over 300 household plastic objects made between 1949 and 1990 that are in the collections of the Wende Museum and Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum. Ranging from kitchen appliances and children’s toys to beauty tools and furniture, many of these colorful pieces are design achievements in their own right, and represent the modern aesthetic favored by many countries following World War II.

“Plastics design in Germany really took off in the 1950s, but so far our conservation experience has focused more on objects from the West,” says Odile Madden, senior scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute. “With this project, we get to explore these very appealing plastic objects that East Germans used in their daily lives, and use what we learn about how they were made to ensure those cultural touchstones are protected for the long-term."

As durable as plastic may seem, many historically significant plastic objects are degrading dramatically, appearing stable for decades and then shrinking, distorting, and even disintegrating into piles of crumbs. Conservation scientists, including a team at the GCI, work with museums around the world to study plastic – whether it is plastic-based art or other culturally important everyday plastic objects. By studying the chemical profile of plastics, they can learn more about what they are made of, how they degrade, and how to possibly conserve and restore them.

One area that has not been explored in-depth but that will be addressed by this project is how industrial production and manufacturing techniques, as well as the value countries and cultures put on their plastics, impact how they age and how long they are owned.

East Germany, (officially known as the German Democratic Republic) is the focus of this research because it developed into one of the leading plastics-producing nations in the 1960s, shortly after the Berlin Wall split the country in two. East Germany exported its products to almost all countries of the Eastern Bloc and even to the West via veiled channels. It is also set apart geographically and socio-politically, creating a unique opportunity to analyze plastic production methods that were less influenced by Western practices.

Scientists and conservators will use a number of tools to analyze the plastics in temporary labs located on the Wende Museum campus and at the Pinakothek of Modern, where Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum is located. These tools include portable Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.

Through visual inspection, researchers have already found some interesting clues about the economics of plastic. For example, one can find embossed systemic numbers on some of the objects, which indicate materials used and sometimes the selling price - traits not typically seen in Western plastics.

Each partner brings particular expertise to the project, whether it is through thoughtful and important collecting of modern objects and long-time research into the conservation of design objects made of modern materials at Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum, an understanding of Soviet culture and social movements through the lens of art at the Wende Museum, GCI’s mission to advance conservation practice and its team of plastics scientists and conservators, or the experts at the University of Cologne and their knowledge of the conservation, analysis and history of plastics.

The results of the research will be published by the Getty Conservation Institute, and can be used as a tool for museums who want to enhance the conservation techniques for their plastic objects, who want to learn more about the historic context in which these objects were made, and to better interpret their collections for visitors.

The project will also include meetings and conferences for other professionals in this field to learn more about the project and to inform their own work.

Today's News

April 23, 2021

What should museums do with the bones of the enslaved?

Group show investigates geometric abstraction among a broad array of artists

Getty announces international project to study Soviet-era plastics

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art reopens with new exhibition: Mother! Origin of Life

The 5th Audemars Piguet Art Commission is unveiled in Hong Kong

Original artwork for Boston's 'Don't Look Back' heads to Heritage Auctions

Stained glass that breaks all the rules

Christie's to offer the collection of Prof Dr Karin von Maur

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan named Executive Director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum

The pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali's lone album arrives, 56 years later

Halle für Kunst Steiermark: A new institution in Graz opens to the public

Christie's presents 'Paris in New York: A Private Collection of Royère, Vautrin, Jouve'

Bruce Museum reopens April 27 with Holly Danger's "Let in, Let go" video art installation

UOVO expands to South Florida with facilities in Miami and Palm Beach

Boijmans loans 15 Chabots to the Chabot Museum

Cirque du Soleil announces resumption of shows

The Strawberry Hill ostrich sells for over £1.8m in new house record at Cheffins in Cambridge

Exhibition presents a new collection of award-winning collectible design by Aki and Arnaud Cooren

Dr Barbara Steiner appointed Director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

Bob Porter, jazz producer and broadcaster, dies at 80

Miller & Miller announces results of online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction

Rare Hermès Himalayan handbag comes to Heritage Auctions

Denver Art Museum to unveil reimagined campus Oct. 24

Daylight Books to publish 'Work Will Set You Free' by Ted Lau, surreal photographs made inside North Korea

10 most prominent museums with online tour offers today

5 Facts About PCR Hemp Oil

5 Facts About Nano CBD Oil

6 Benefits of Adding Collagen Powder to Your Smoothie

Hemp Cigarettes Are Shaping the World of Curbing Nicotine Addiction

Legal Services Your Startup Might Need

Most Simple Ways To Get Enough Greens In Your Diets

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful