Tyvek Innovative Uses Blog, by Material Concepts

Monday, February 9, 2009

Protecting Outdoor Sculptures with Tyvek® Covers

The American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has a network blog for Emerging Conservation Professionals. This AIC blog started in May 2008 is "a forum for professionals entering the field of conservation."

Richard McCoy from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has a recent post about using Tyvek® covers to protect outdoor scuptures at the Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, a National Historic Landmark and 26-acre estate and historic house museum located at IMA. (Sources: IMA, Wikipedia).

Here are a couple sets of the before and after photos:

Photos courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), taken by Richard McCoy. Click photos to enlarge. Additional photos, videos and slide show about protecting these sculptures available at: AIC: Emerging Conservation Professionals Network Blog

On these grouds there are a number of stone sculptures that are almost 100 years old. During the winter, the museum staff wants to protect the sculptures from the elements. McCoy describes:

Historically, sculptures like these would have been covered during the winter months. The reason? Freeze-thaw-action. [T]he problem is that moisture seeps into the interstices of the stone, stays there and then after the temperature drops the water becomes ice, expands and then the little (or sometimes big) pieces of the stone get pushed apart. In short it's not good for the sculptures and we try to reduce the chances of this happening.

Why use Tyvek® for covering the sculptures? McCoy says, "The thinking was if cars could be live all year long under Tyvek covers, then our sculptures could live a good winter life under them. Of course, Tyvek is clever in that it is water resistant, yet breathable, so moisture doesn't get trapped inside the covers."

The covers were custom made and sewn to cover 9 or 10 of these outdoor sculptures. If you are thinking about doing something like this, or sewing any Tyvek® material, please refer to our Tyvek® sewing instructions.

For more information about related uses of Tyvek®, visit the Tyvek® Archival Art page of our website.

For conservators or museum staff who want to use Tyvek®, you can buy archival quality Tyvek® style 14M rolls or other types of Tyvek® rolls or sheets online from Material Concepts, an authorized Tyvek® distributor, or you can call Material Concepts to place an order: 215-338-6515 or toll free in the US: 1-800-372-3366.

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posted by Matcon Webmaster at


Blogger Richard McCoy said...

Nice post, Matcon. Had I been smart and clever, I would have included the type of Tyvek that we used ... I have it written down in the file at work.

How cool it is that we got connected -- your blog is now in my Google Reader.

Your links are excellent, especially the sewing instructions.

Thanks -- Richard

February 9, 2009 at 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see art conservation highlighted! I'm using Tyvek Soft Structure Type 14, purchased from Materials Concepts, as part of my treatment of the upholstery on suite of chairs designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

You guys sent me a fantastic sample pack when I was choosing what material to use.


February 10, 2009 at 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again!
If you're interested in seeing more, you'll find pictures of the project at http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelburnemuseum/sets/72157612811812843/

Shelburne Museum

February 11, 2009 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Matcon Webmaster said...

Nancie, thanks for your comment and for sending the link to the photos.
With your permission, we'd like to use a photo from what you sent posted on Flickr.
Is that okay?
We'd be happy to link to that Flickr album or to the museum website if you'd like.

February 24, 2009 at 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Katie M said...

nice post, Matcon and conservators - we're looking into Tyvek wrappers for parts of our book collection, but hit on this and are considering it as a potentially very good solution for winter housing of some very rare early farm equipment... Thanks!

October 31, 2012 at 2:41 PM  

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