Natural light is essential for the art experience at Chinati. Most installations at the museum employ the reliably strong West Texas sun as the sole source of illumination year round. While natural light is a crucial component in viewing the installations at Chinati, it simultaneously presents challenges for preserving the art, particularly the permanent installations in which paper is central to the work, most notably Ilya Kabokov’s School No. 6 and Carl Andre’s Words. Natural light poses a real danger to typed pages, watercolors, illustrations, notebooks, and memorabilia. Unmitigated exposure to natural light causes these materials to fade and become brittle, which greatly compromises their longevity and Judd’s vision of permanently placed installation.
While natural light cannot be eliminated as the light source at Chinati, the most damaging aspect of the light, UV radiation, can be significantly reduced thanks to modern UV protective films.
Installation of the film
Installation of the film will not alter the appearance of the buildings or interfere with visibility of perceived light intensity inside the installation spaces. The life expectancy of the film is between eight and 15 years. The performance will be monitored twice yearly by measuring the UV radiation inside the treated spaces.
The UV protective film will be installed by specialists, knowledgeable not only in the application of these films but also in working around valuable art works. The UV film is installed using a “wet” process—the film is applied to the windows with a water solution, which activates the glue and fuses the film to the window surface during evaporation of the water. This “wet” process requires that all material near the treated windows be removed to avoid accidental water damage, including items placed on the floor, on top of, and inside furniture. This applies to all furniture as well, including showcases, benches, and tables.
In preparation for this treatment, Conservation staff has photographically documented the entire Kabakov installation. Using a grid layout superimposed on a floor plan of the space, each section of the floors and walls have been meticulously noted to allow all objects to be deinstalled before treatment and reinstalled in the exact locations after the UV film has been applied. All movable items will be collected and placed into folders or bins according to their grid coordinates. All furniture locations will be marked with tape to allow exact relocation following treatment.
Once items have been collected and furniture has been moved and covered with plastic sheeting, all windows must be cleaned thoroughly to remove dust and accumulated grime. Once this preparatory work has been completed, the UV film installation can begin.
Anticipated closure dates of Ilya Kabakov’s School No. 6 are June 25 through July 27, 2014.
Installation of the UV protective film will also be scheduled for Carl Andre’s Words, Ingolfur Arnarsson’s untitled drawings, Chinati’s temporary exhibition building, and the doors of the John Wesley gallery. The preparation of these spaces is less work intensive and closures will be brief. If you have questions regarding potential closures during your visit, please contact Visitor Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Despite the enormous amount of work necessary to prepare and install the UV protective film, this project is essential to maintaining Judd’s vision of Chinati. We are very thankful to all the donors who made this important project in preventative conservation possible through generous contributions to the Chinati Foundation.
Many thanks from the Conservation Department of Chinati.
Chinati’s educational and public programming is supported with generous grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brown Foundation, the Cowles Charitable Trust, the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, the Permian Basin Area Foundation, the Warren Skaaren Trust, the Susan Vaughan Foundation, and the City of Marfa.