The National Center for Mosaics will occupy some 14,000 square foot of both open and closed areas in the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel. Experienced mosaic conservators are responsible for carrying out the conservation work of mosaics both in house and in the field. The viewable housing mosaic center houses nearly 800 mosaic and mosaic fragments at any given moment that will be accessible and available to students, researchers, archaeologists and the general public (accompanied by authorized staff).
The treatment of mosaics is organized into several phases. The first phase creates noise and dust due to the slicing and the reduction of the ancient concrete and cement support in order to release the tesserae from the mortar; a following phase is the fabrication and installation of a new support for the mosaic, requiring clean workspaces and large, perfectly leveled and flat platforms; the final phase involves the fine cleaning of the mosaic surface, restoration of missing pieces, the consolidation of materials and the treatment and filling of the gaps.
Following is a short description of the work process involved in mosaic conservation:
- Gluing the upper surface of the mosaic panels to cloth.
- Dismantling the cast cement from the underside of each mosaic panel.
- Placing the mosaic pieces on a casting surface whereby the top of the mosaic faces down.
- Preparations for the new casting: positioning of the frame, filling sand, a separating layer of lime applied to the underside of the mosaic.
- Pouring new bedding: spreading an epoxy mixture into the underside of the mosaic, gluing an aluminum and fiberglass cloth onto the mosaic’s underside.
- After the casting is dry the mosaic can be turned over to face upward. The cloth is peeled from the top surface of the mosaic and the preparation layers are discarded.
- The mosaic surface is treated: the surface is cleaned and the spaces between the panels are filled with tesserae.
- Preparing the mosaic for hanging: assembling metal suspenders on the frame of the mosaic and on the display wall.
- The final cleaning and application of a protective material.