Understanding micro crystalline waxes for the seismic protection of art objects

Anne Crowley, Debra F. Laefer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


00 Use of microcrystalline waxes for the protection of ceramic art objects from seismic events is an inexpensive and relatively popular technique. Performance results are presented for three commercial, microcrystalline waxes based on anchoring requirements of resisting seismic-induced tensile and shear forces, while exhibiting a ductile failure mode, to prevent objects from suddenly detaching themselves from their display units and becoming sufficiently mobile to fall off stands or collide with other art objects. As many of the testing techniques described in this paper are not easily accessible to the average museum conservator, and some of the products may not be readily available, emphasis is placed on establishing an expected range of strengths, and correlations are suggested for predicting the general performance of any microcrystalline wax in a specific application arrangement, based on easily performed, simplified tests that were found to predict tensile capacity within 10%. Distinctive performance trends were found amongst various products with capacity being as much as 183 kPa in tension and 42 kPa in shear. The preap-plication of a methacrylate copolymer to the bonding surface consistently improved performance, while increasing wax thickness did not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-138
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the American Institute for Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Museology


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