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Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces (CAPS)

Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces (CAPS)

26 November 2012

In July of this year our Textile Conservator, Leanne Tonkin, attended a workshop at Tate Britain, London concerning the cleaning of acrylic painted surfaces, otherwise known as CAPS.  The workshop was hosted by The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), Los Angeles and Tate, London and was the third in a series of workshops regarding the cleaning of acrylic paints.  Acrylic paints are complicated materials and conserving them can present many problems.  The workshop introduced potential cleaning solutions which will be appropriate to use on acrylic paints.  The cleaning solutions have been developed through scientific research conducted at GCI, USA, Tate, UK and Dow Chemical Company, USA.

This was the first workshop which was opened up to all conservators working with acrylic paints.  Eighteen participants from a variety of institutions from eleven countries were selected via an application process to take part.  The workshop is part of a research into practice initiative conducted at GCI where by scientific outcomes directly inform practicing conservators and any knowledge/observations gained from practicing conservators will inform scientific research.  Making this collaboration a two way process.  The workshop was lead by four instructors who are leading specialists into the investigation and conservation of modern paints.

The People’s History Museum holds a good number of acrylic and other modern painted banners and knowledge gained from this workshop will certainly help preserve these objects for future generations to enjoy.  Our Textile Conservator is currently testing these cleaning solutions to help conserve some of the acrylic painted banners to be displayed in January 2013 when some of our banners will be changed.  Observations will be fed back into research currently being conducted at both Tate and GCI.

Useful Links

Modern Paints Research at the Getty Conservation Institute

Tate Modern Art Research

Research into Practice, Getty Conservation Institute


The museum would like to thank The Anna Plowden Trust for financially supporting Leanne Tonkin’s attendance at the workshop.