With Patience and Spit, in the Art Museum

With patience and spit” is the headline in the German magazine Monopol, about the application of Ig Nobel Prize-winning knowledge to the cleaning of a historic painting. Marcus Boxler reports, in Monopol:

A highlight of the Mannheim art gallery collection is currently being cleaned up: The oil painting “The execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico” by Édouard Manet is being cleaned thoroughly – with a rather unexpected household remedy…

Katrin Radermacher, head of the restoration department, works with medical face mask and rubber gloves on the painting “The execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico”…

Special saliva treatment? What at first sounds like a joke is, according to Radermacher, a “completely sensible and sensible method”, provided the processed material allows it. “The saliva is perfectly suitable because it contains special enzymes that break up surface contamination,” explains the Mannheim restorer.

Three Portuguese scientists have researched exactly this curious and outdated method and in 2018 received the so-called “Ig Nobel Prize” for chemistry – a kind of satirical anti-Nobel Prize for (scientifically serious) research results that “first make you laugh and then make you smile.” Stimulate thinking “….

UPDATE: The North Carolina Museum of Art made a nice video showing how they used spit to clean one of their most prized statues. (Thanks to Polly Freeman Lyman for bringing this to our attention.)