The mount-making principles that guide our work are described in our mountmaking manifesto.
The two primary objectives in mountmaking are to ensure object safety and display objects discreetly. We are passionate about our responsibility to meet these goals for every object that we mount. The following details what that commitment entails for us.
TO ENSURE OBJECT SAFETY,
WE RESPECT THE OBJECT, (FIRST DO NO HARM)
- We never alter an object to accommodate mounting.
- We never use original holes, straps, or hooks to support an object.
- We wear nitrile gloves while handling objects and remove them during sanding or other “dirty” work.
- We defer to museum preference regarding the use of gloves with paper, glass, and glazed ceramic objects.
- Only highly experienced mountmakers, not trainees or art handlers, create mounts for our clients.
WE SUPPORT THE OBJECT
- We appropriately size, space, and position mount arms to accept the weight of the object or stabilize and orient the object within the mount.
- We place mount arms with sensitivity to the structure of an object; we position weight-bearing arms where an object is stable, and place additional arms where an object’s fragility needs further support.
- We design mounts to anticipate the tendency for organic materials to experience dimensional changes.
- We consider an object’s center of gravity and design mounts to minimize stress or mount rotation.
- We create mounts that properly span an object so that mount tabs do not become pivot points.
WE PROTECT THE OBJECT
- We design mounts to securely cradle objects from being knocked loose.
- We construct security mounts for uncased objects that firmly grasp the object without distorting or loosening if the object is handled.
- We finish tabs to be well-rounded and blunt so that they won’t scratch.
- We clean and temporarily pad mounts during fitting to prevent abrasions.
- Because ill-fitting tabs concentrate the entire weight of an object at small contact points, we carefully bend and round tabs for a perfect fit to the object.
WE USE INERT ODDY-TESTED MATERIALS
- We pad mounts where they meet the object using sueded polyethylene, Acryloid B-72, Volara, or three coats of Krylon Clear Coat.
- We provide our clients with a list of all materials, adhesives, paints, and finishes that we intend to use on our mounts to ensure that they meet each museum’s specifications.
WE KEEP IT SIMPLE
- When possible, we create straightforward “just lift to remove object” mounts that lessen the risk of damage during curatorial maintenance, emergencies, or final deinstall.
- We prepare simple designs that reduce object handling during mount fitting and keep objects safer.
WE ANTICIPATE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
- We work closely with conservators to address an object’s needs and find appropriate display solutions.
- We fabricate mounts with mechanical attachments, not adhesives that can eventually fail.
- We place archival barriers between objects and case furniture to inhibit material interaction.
- We provide deinstallation notes and drawings for all mounts that are not “lift to remove.”
- At Brigid, we have decades of combined experience. With that comes the maturity to recognize that we don’t know everything. We listen to and appreciate client feedback.
TO DISPLAY OBJECTS DISCREETLY,
WE MINIMIZE THE MOUNT
- We consider an object’s placement within the case and viewer angle to design hidden mounts.
- The tabs at the front of an object rarely support much weight; we make them as small as possible.
- We carefully paint out mounts where visible to blend into the object.
- If ambient vibration is a concern, we use Oddy-tested silicone sheet (quake shield) or pins. We do not use museum wax, silicone rubber, or tape.
WE VALUE CRAFTSMANSHIP
- We finish mounts to a high standard because lopsided tabs, misaligned padding, and visible brushstrokes detract from an object’s appearance.
- We position tabs so that they harmoniously relate to the visual balance of a piece and aren’t in conflict with important object details.
- When appropriate, we offset rods to reduce the “lollipop effect.”
WE ASK QUESTIONS
- We discuss with our clients how an object is to be displayed in order to design the most appropriate mount. If we know whether an object is deck or wall mounted, how far it is to be from the deck/wall, and at what angle it is to be displayed, we can design a less obtrusive mount.
Our manifesto was inspired by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Department of Conservation’s “Exhibit Object Mounting Guidelines” by Shelly Uhlir and Marian Kaminitz as well as the National Park Service “Guidelines for Exhibition Conservation” by Toby Raphael.