March 17, 2011
It is our great pleasure and honor to tell you that Matthew and Marysia Gerson, long time friends and great supporters of the Israel Antiquities Authority, agreed to support the establishment of the Matthew and Marysia Gerson National Center for Mosaics in the Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel. The Matthew and Marysia Gerson National Center for Mosaics will become a Jerusalem landmark and a must-see stop for school children, archaeologists and researchers from around the world, visitors to Israel and the general public.
Matthew and Marysia's exemplary gift to the Israel Antiquities Authority joins a number of significant gifts that are uniquely important towards realizing our goal, and together form the cornerstone of our efforts to reach out and educate the public about the rich and diverse archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel. When completed, the Schottenstein National Campus - an education, research and illumination complex in the center of Jerusalem, designed by Architect Moshe Safdie - will provide easy access to the largest collection of the Archaeology of the Land of Israel in the world.
The Matthew and Marysia Gerson National Center for Mosaics
The National Center for Mosaics will occupy some 14,000 square feet of both open and closed areas in the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel. The Center is unique and exceptional as all of the mosaics treated, housed and exhibited are discovered in excavations in Israel and are recorded in their archaeological context, offering us a wealth of information which otherwise would have been lost. Our mosaics conservation specialists are highly trained and among the most experienced in the world, and they perform conservation work for all archaeological expeditions working in the country.
The viewable housing mosaic center in the National Campus will house nearly 800 mosaic and mosaic fragments dating from Hellenistic to Islamic periods, and 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.
- If hanging: assembling metal suspenders on the frame of the mosaic and on the display wall.
- The final cleaning and application of a protective material.
One of the unique and fascinating features of the Matthew and Marysia Gerson National Center for Mosaics in the National Campus will be the rare opportunity for the public to visit objects in the viewable housing and to observe the work performed in the conservation and restoration laboratories by our mosaics conservators. This remarkable feature is an important and dramatic example of the IAA's mission to provide increasingly enhanced accessibility to its huge collections.