Every two months Michelangelo’s David is “dusted” to remove microscopic dust and debris. It’s the job of Eleonora Pucci, in-house art conservator at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, a job she described as “exhilarating,” if somewhat unnerving.
To clean the 17 ft tall statue, a specialist in-house team builds a scaffolding tower in the rotunda housing the David, taking special precautions.
Using a small brush made of synthetic fiber, Eleonora caresses the statue, raising particles which are immediately sucked up by a small vacuum cleaner strapped to her back, expressly designed to be used on statues and museum architecture. (backpack vacuum cleaners with ultra high capture ability (of the dust), soft brush nozzles and HEPA filters are available commonly).
While you may think that the effort is worth it because it is Michelangelo’s David we are talking about, I beg to differ. With precautions, all art on display can undergo some type of safe maintenance, periodically… but not every two months is required.
Proper protection from damage and proper maintenance can maximize the enjoyment and maintain the value of the artwork. After all, a careful/thoughtful-hands-on relationship with your art turns your “decoration” into a relationship.
If you are uneasy, or even if you are not uneasy, about handling valuable art items (see this article about if something is “worth it”…and about what you should do to maintain your art, speak with an art conservator and ask if he/she is for hire to give you an in-house mini training session. Unless the art conservator has no people skills, you should enjoy the visit immensely (even more with some afternoon tea and cookies), a nice moment to further pick his/her brain. In fact, you should video the instruction for review later.
I promise you, the activity will be much more satisfying and valuable than telling the housekeeper hit everything with Pledge and a rag for a superficial tidy look. In addition to getting to know your art connects better, it will also give you the occasion to think about earthquake safety and other protective measures.
Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon Art Conservators
805 564 3438 office
p.s. If you would like to know more about what you can do to protect and preserve your original family history items, collectibles and memorabilia click on this link for a free copy of Scott M. Haskins book Save Your Stuff – Collection Care Tips, 210 pages with 35 embedded how-to videos.
p.s.s. CLICK HERE for our YouTube channel – Subscribe! See quick video on Discovering Hidden Signatures on Paintings!
Hi Aaron, thanks for leaving a comment. Your questions is very difficult to answer in this limited space. There are many variables. Sorry.
Your blog posts are an invaluable educational tool for aspiring art connoisseurs like myself. Yes, I feel overwhelmed most of the time but I love the thrill this new journey is giving me. Have you thought about creating a course intended for us, total beginners?
Thanks for leaving a comment Olivia. I get comments from many educational institutions that regularly link into the blog and our YouTube channel. One art conservation program is on the heel of the boot in Italy and another is in Mongolia! I do not have a planned course.
Recently found your Youtube channel (you should post more often as I very much enjoy your videos) and now I found your site as well. I’ve acquired a rather large collection from my parents and I would love your help, Mr. Haskins. I tried calling twice but wasn’t able to reach you yet. I’m not in need of an appraisal, but would need an art maintenance service.
Thanks for your comment Linda. Sorry you’ve not gotten through. I’ll mention it to the office staff. My mobile phone is 805 570 4140. Feel free to call after hours, Sat… or during business hours. I’m looking forward to talk with you.
Hi Linda, please give me a call at 805 564 3438 so we can discuss. Thanks for leaving your comment.
I have a small collection of busts gathered throughout the years and everyone recommends the same, dry dusting while being extra, extra careful. I thought my job was tough, I can’t imagine how long it takes Eleonora to dust the whole statue.
LOL, yes, I imagine that the pressure might me a lot for some people. Its a good example about maintaining “our stuff.”
I’ve never thought about the actual process of cleaning art pieces until I heard about it from one of my professors. After doing a bit of research I now find it intriguing and there’s so much more than meets the eye. Cleaning a historical piece like Michelangelo’s David must be very challenging and maybe even frightening. Eleonora Pucci surely has a tough but exciting job.
Hi Alice, thank for your comment. Yes, it might make you more nervous to know that the work is watching than any problem you might have with “dusting” David. Actually, the work itself is safe, easy and I imagine highly satisfying if you get into the mindset that there’s a “cosmic connection” between Michelangelo, David and you. But can you imagine the reaction if you dropped something on the marble and chipped it. The person working on this project is not a normal facilities, maintenance person! Good luck with your studies!
I used your services a few years back on a few paintings that were in need of cleaning. One was in dire need of restoration. You did a splendid job of it and I would like to recommend you to a friend who lives in Salt Lake City. Do you serve that area, Scott?
Hi Robert, yes, we are still serving the Salt Lake City area (and the Las Vegas area on our way to Utah and on the way back). We’ve been working in Utah since 1978. Give me a call if I can answer any other questions 805 570 4140
Thanks Robert for your comment. We’ve been serving the Salt Lake City area since 1978. Here is a quick video about some of the institutions we have worked with: Salt Lake City Painting Restoration
From what I know (and that’s not very much) hitting everything with Pledge and a rag can (in time) ruin an art piece? Is this correct?
LOL! Jim, as logical as that seems, lots of people do it cause its quick, convenient and easy. But its bad for the items and I’ve sen damage that can not be undone caused my rags and household cleaning techniques. I’m happy to discuss if there are any questions: 805 570 4140. Also, I wrote a book for home use and to guide people. https://www.SaveYourStuff.com
Jim, the short answer is “yes.” There are many chemical reasons and explanations of what happens during aging that would take awhile to explain. Call me if you have some specific questions. 805 564 3438
The book you shared at the end is fantastic! I learned so much about art collection maintenance from it and the videos provided! I highly recommend anyone go and download it. It’s quite extensive and well made and covers a lot of different areas. I’m confident it will last longer now that I know what I’m doing. Thank you so much, Scott!
Claudia, thanks for your comment and I’m glad you took action to have more hands on experiences with your collection. Seriously, don’t you have more interest and enjoyment from your items now? When you take this kind of interest, your collection becomes a little less than just decorations and more like cultural objects with meaning.
New reader here and I couldn’t be more in awe! My father was very passionate about art collecting and he passed that love to me. He passed away recently and I wanted to start learning more about this as a way to remember him.
Nice comment Rebecca and I know just what you mean. I too feel that way about my parent’s “stuff.”
Welcome Rebecca, stay in touch. Our content doesn’t expire or get outdated. Blog posts from years ago arte still good.
We worked together last year on a few WPA period pieces. Marcus, from Dallas, if you remember. Just wanted to say how much you’ve helped us both with taking care of our collection and also educating us on how to properly take care of them so they last longer. To most people, caring for art is not that difficult but it’s actually quite a complex endeavor and you can easily screw it up as I’ve discovered. If you truly value your collection, there’s no better choice than Scott M Haskins. Thank you for your passion and care for art, Scott!
Marcus, thanks so much for your comment. We have enjoyed very much you sharing your art interests and positive energy. I look forward to connecting again soon. Be sure to stay in touch on our social media, besides our blog (https:www.Facebook.com/bestartdoc) Scott
Respect back at you Marcus. Good to hear from you. Call if you want to talk 805 564 3438