After comprehensive examination that included X-radiography and UV photo documentation, a treatment plan was proposed and approved in discussion with Mecka and Wolf Buchard, Associate Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.
The treatment focused on reversing the old repairs, structural reinforcement, and enhancement of visual aesthetics. The old glue residue was removed and the gallery sections on the top were realigned. Custom jigs were made for clamping and the loose central joints of the fretwork shafts were glued and strengthened. I conducted loss compensation on the fretworks with different materials such as mahogany, Modostuc, and PC Woody epoxy resin. Dry surface cleaning and reactivation of the wax finish improved the surface quality. The fills I made were inpainted with acrylic paints and watercolor, and the gloss was matched with synthetic MSA varnish. Final adjustment of the retouching was conducted in the gallery under exhibition lighting conditions.
With the effort and hard work of the entire conservation team and in collaboration with different departments across and outside the museum, the British Galleries successfully reopened to the public on March 2nd, 2020. It's a unique and enjoyable experience to see my project displayed in the well-designed new galleries, and to introduce the objects to my friends and colleagues.
Only ten days after the opening, the Metropolitan Museum of Art experienced the longest temporary closure in its history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which it also celebrated its 150th Birthday. It's hard to imagine New York City without the MET, and I am heartbroken to see the whole world suffering. While working from home, I'm constantly inspired and encouraged by my colleagues, who share and care with their enthusiasm of art and love of humankind.
I'm proud to be one of them.
Hang in there, we never close.
— Yang Xu, WUDPAC Class of 2020