Ray Hernández Durán
Following the Spanish Conquest, responses to Aztec art were varied. While architecture and many sacred sculptures were demolished and their material remains recycled into new construction, other works were either repurposed to fulfill new functions in the colonial setting or sent to Europe where they were collected and admired. Certain Aztec art forms persisted after the Conquest but with various adaptations or reformulations, as seen in manuscript production and featherwork. Other Colonial artworks, for example sculpture and wall paintings, evince the influence of indigenous esthetics, techniques, and forms, evident in sculpture and wall painting. Eventually, Aztec objects transitioned from being perceived as exotic curiosities in royal collections and world’s fairs to historical and archaeological artifacts to works of art appreciated by audiences in Mexico, as signifiers of national identity and indigenous achievement, and in museum exhibitions abroad where Aztec art often continues to be enigmatic, misunderstood, or unknown.
This chapter addresses issues related to light–object interaction along with its resulting phenomena, taking into consideration materiality issues. It presents light and its role in artefacts studies, either as a tool for finds analysis or as a corrosion agent. It attempts a balanced investigation into past and contemporary approaches towards light from the conservator’s perspective. It discusses traditional raking and oblique light examination, along with its advanced digital analogue, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), which bridges the gap between digital photography and three-dimensional modelling. Applications of dome and/or Highlight RTI in a wide variety of material and artefact types, as well as in a wide range of conservation states, using macroscopic and microscopic means, indicate that the technique contributes considerably in prevention, investigation, examination and analysis, documentation, communication, dissemination, and presentation, as well as being a conservation monitoring tool.
Museums exist to display and preserve valuable artefacts. Display lighting helps fulfil one of the main tenets of a museum, but excessive light causes irreparable damage to sensitive exhibits. Getting the balance between good display lighting and good conservation conditions is often difficult, but not impossible. Good exhibit lighting is not accidental. A considered process of design ideation and refinement is required to render exhibits to best effect. This thoughtful process is not explicit in the installation; nevertheless, by analysing methodologies that an experienced designer may consider as ‘intuitive’, the author establishes the critical design practices that underpin effective lighting for museum exhibits. The author explores factors that may impair viewing conditions and how the human physiological response to light can work against us in dimly lit galleries. However, considered use of light can reveal details of texture, shape, and decoration that could easily be missed in low light conditions.
María de Lourdes Gallardo Parrodi
This chapter outlines the development and contributions of archaeological conservation done at the Templo Mayor Project since 1978. The advancements made in this field have been possible thanks to the work of various conservators who contribute their expertise from the moment of excavation to the posterior treatment and research on archaeological findings. They contribute a thorough understanding of the characteristics of different materials, their transformation and processes of alteration, and the different uses they will have within the Mexica archaeological collections. Conservators have designed and implemented a series of protocols that are applied to both new finds as well as objects that are part of the research collections and displays in the Templo Mayor Museum.