Keeping Plastic Fantastic
Analytical methods help save Disney cels – and could protect the art of the future
Joanna Cummings |
The Disney Animation Research Library is a carefully climate-controlled facility housing original celluloids of the animation giant’s most beloved films. However, even in these state-of-the-art surroundings Disney’s early animation cels have begun to fall prey to the ravages of time; the film has started to show signs of shrinking, cracking and discoloration. Disney called in Tom Learner, head of the Getty Conservation Institute’s Science department (1) to save the day.
After analyzing cels using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to identify the polymer base materials – cellulose diacetate and cellulose triacetate – and characterizing chemical composition using pyrolysis-GC-MS, Learner’s team discovered that it was possible to re-adhere the paint by placing the cels in humidity chambers (2). For now, at least, Bambi and Pinocchio are safe.
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