Object Conservation for
Museums, Curators and Advanced Collectors

Our purpose here is to address issues of particular importance to conservators, curators and professional readers who have conservation or restoration requirements and may not have considered retaining competent, effective, ethical and timely resources available outside the institutional world.

Following are several short descriptions of recent projects completed.

Satsuma Urn

This particular urn was crushed by a truck that came through the wall of a collector's display area. It stood about 20-inches tall before the surprise visit. The pieces sent us numbered approximately 60. In the photo, we have already assembled a number of them.

Once we had presented our proposal, the owner agreed with our recommendation that we should assemble all of the available pieces and then re-assess the course of action when that phase was completed. In fact, there were large areas of ceramic missing and it was agreed that we would fill these with a durable material that was fairly neutral in color and the owner might have these in-painted at a later time when his budget allowed.

Here is the project as completed.

Kutani Porcelain Cat

In this case, a Kutani Cat arrived in 34 pieces. It is made of wonderful dense, white porcelain, and the original craftsmanship in forming and firing it and subsequent artwork to add features were fantastic.

The following image shows the cat assembled and a number of missing pieces filled in with white aerospace epoxy. The fills are slightly below the original surfaces and will be added to with softer material later to bring the repairs flush with the original edges.

Our final photo shows the finished project. Colors used are highly stable MSA (mineral spririt acrylic); protective coating is catalyzed acrylic with UV resistant properties.

Materials used in these projects and all of our work are highly stable, yet can be reversed if this ever should become necessary.

These are only two examples. Please visit our main Website (link at bottom (left) of this page) to view some of the other objects we have treated.

Our laboratory is equipped to handle hard-fired porcelain, pottery, earthenware, glass, ivory, jade, and generally any hard material. Occasionally we handle small wooden objects such as Kachinas, etc.

Generally we prefer to treat objects smaller than the urn described above.

Our History

We established MacDowell Laboratories in January of 1970, with the purpose of developing new applications for modern technical materials in the conservation of objects.

In the early 1990's, we added the name MacDowell Restorations, as we felt it better described our actual field of endeavor. MacDowell Laboratories continues for R&D activities.

Having witnessed years of trials and tribulations of others in the field owing to the lack of predictable and high-quality materials and techniques for doing actual conservation work, and seeing that these methods were harmful to the objects (sanding, grinding, drilling, etc.) we knew that, given enough time and determination, far better methods would evolve.

At the very beginning, we joined the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC), shortly thereafter the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and, during the same time frame, the Washington Conservation Guild. We continue to be participants in the Conservation Dist List and are active in our never-ending quest for improvements to materials and methodology.

Much to the credit of other members, we have received substantial support for this project and shall be eternally grateful for the cooperation and openness of the individuals who were so vitally important to us in formulating methods which meet the ethical requirements of institutions and conservation organizations and are also commercially viable.

To the institutions that have supported our work over these many years by commissioning numbers of highly interesting conservation projects, we offer our heartfelt thanks.

And we are most grateful for the generous support and evaluation samples and technical support provided by so many adhesive, coatings and equipment manufacturers over these many years.

Please contact us via the 'Contact Us & More Info' link in the left-hand pane. We shall welcome an opportunity to collaborate with you on your next conservation project.

Sincerely yours,

Robert K. and Karin B. MacDowell
Owners and Conservators
MacDowell Restorations
Waterford, VA, USA

*In case you arrived on this page through an Internet search (possibly by using our name mis-spelled McDowell in the phrase McDowell Restorations or McDowell Laboratories), please click the following link (Left) to start at our main site:

MacDowell Restorations Home Page