ICA painting conservator Wendy Partridge was thrilled to work on Niki di St Phalle's Nana in 2020. The work, a favorite of visitors to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery had been suspended for years. In the lab ICA staff member, Chris Pelrine, built a wood scaffold so that the piece could be suspended in the proper orientation for photodocumentation and conservation treatment access.
Loose surface soil, was removed and the piece was dusted from top to bottom. During vacuuming, the piece was checked for loose threads and any insecurities in the adhesive layer, but surface of the piece was quite secure. In the few areas where loose threads or lifting fabric was found, they were readhered in place.
A more embedded grime layer was reduced with cotton swabs and cosmetic sponges. The horizontal surfaces were unsurprisingly considerably grimier than more vertical areas. After the cleaning the sculpture was vacuumed again with a small brush and tweezers to remove any cotton fibers or sponge debris caught in the interstices of the piece. Nana has brightened considerably, has more contrast, and is less dusty/hazy in appearance.