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Arthur Shaughnessy house post carvings reinstalled following conservation treatment (February 2012)

Four carved and painted house posts were recently reinstalled near the entrance of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. These pieces were part of an important multi-year project to undertake conservation treatments on nearly half of the 77 large scale carvings in the hall. The project was funded by generous grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Stockman Family Foundation.

These four posts were commissioned by the American Museum of Natural History and carved by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Arthur Shaughnessy in 1923. They have been on permanent display since that time.

Installation of a fire suppression system and an upgrade of gallery lighting required the de-installation of the posts, providing an opportunity for treatment. The conservation work lasted for 9 months and included archival research into the history of the posts, detailed documentation of their condition, and investigation of the paint layers and past restoration campaigns that had obscured the original surfaces. Through the efforts of the conservation team, the posts were stabilized and cleaned, revealing much of the original detail of the carving and vibrancy of the painted decoration.

Conservation treatment of the houseposts

Temporary conservation lab set-up in the gallery.


Gabrielle Tieu re-adhering splinters.


Karl Knauer filling splinter edges.


Removal of aged varnishes.


Samantha Alderson removing aged varnishes.


Nicole Ledoux removing aged varnishes.


Revealing original painted decoration

Reveal of original white claws (on right).


Details: before and after cleaning.


Details: before and after cleaning.


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American Museum of Natural History

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Phone: 212-769-5100

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