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Treatment FOCUS: Four Large Knoll Posters

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In 1972, the Louvre installed a unique design exhibition. Dozens of rolling Plexiglas and polished steel cubes housed individual pieces of furniture. The entryway to the 45-foot tall exhibition space was dominated by a huge, three-dimensional logo spelling out a single word: Knoll. The show was a celebration of the design firm’s first 25 years. The exhibition solidified Knoll’s place in the design world, signaling that the company and its now-iconic logo were a big name in design—both figuratively and literally. 

Over 40 years later, Knoll, Inc. brought four of the large posters that advertised the exhibition to CCAHA for treatment. Designed by Massimo Vignelli, the posters form the Knoll logo when placed next to one another. CCAHA Kress Fellow Brook Prestowitz assessed the posters and prepared condition reports. Each poster had minor surface soil and accretions. The edges were tattered and had numerous small tears and losses in the printed media due to abrasion. They were framed in metallic poster frames with acrylic glazing and no mats.

Prestowitz surface cleaned both sides of each poster with polyurethane sponges and a soft brush. The creased areas were locally humidified and pressed under weights. She mended the tears and weakened areas with mulberry paper and wheat starch paste and inpainted any losses with watercolors. Finally, she humidified and pressed the posters overall. When treating and handling large objects like the Knoll posters, conservators often enlist one another’s assistance. Paper Conservator Heather Hendry helped Prestowitz move the posters anytime she needed.

After their treatment, the posters moved to the Housing & Framing department. First, Manager of Housing & Framing Zac Dell’Orto and Housing Technician Jen Nugent placed each poster in a sealed package (a single unit containing the object and glazing that can be placed into a frame and both protects the object from particulate matter and mitigates against environmental fluctuations).

After constructing a sealed package for each poster, Dell’Orto and Nugent fasted the sealed packages into black metal frames that the Knoll representatives selected. These frames were reinforced with wooden strainers to prevent the oversized posters from bowing.

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Images: CCAHA Paper Conservator Heather Hendry, Kress Fellow Brook Prestowitz, Housing Technician Jen Nugent, and Manager of Housing & Framing Zac Dell’Orto pose in front of the framed posters