Iberdrola supports the Museums Conservation and Restoration programme every year by financing the study and treatment of a series of works from the permanent collection, as well as funding a grant for in-house training at the Museum Conservation & Restoration Department. In 2014 action was taken on the following works: a 16th century Flemish panel, two 19th-century paintings by Basque artists Antonio María Lecuona and Juan Barroeta, and another two by contemporary artists Vicente Ameztoy and Mikel Díez Alaba. Also treated were 15 drawings from the works on paper section, dating from the final decades of the 19th century. The drawings were by Bilbao-born artist Roberto Laplaza.
The choice of techniques used during treatment depended on the state of conservation of the works. Some treatments involved preventive conservation, including framing and mounting with specific materials for each work. Prevention was particularly important for Roberto Laplaza´s drawings on paper. Given the intrinsic fragility of the support, they required a specific frame to minimize the impact of variations in humidity, light and temperature. The frame of the Flemish painting The Flagellation was also changed, to bring it more into line with the age in which the painting was produced. The frame was fitted with a protective system in climate-sensitive casing with anti-glare organic glass, which protects the work from harmful atmospheric agents while assuring full visibility.
Other work involved scientific investigation, including the analytical tests carried out to determine the exact nature of pigments, binders and varnishes on the actual painted surface of an artwork. This is true of The Flagellation; analysis of the Flemish painting has provided valuable data for a better understanding of the work. Likewise, examination of the work by Vicente Ameztoy led to the identification of the composition of varnishes and non-original substances that had altered the paint surface.
Finally, some specific conservation work was also performed, including consolidating the material, and structural and chemical stabilization. Restoration work involved replacing gaps in the paint. After cleaning and eliminating oxidized varnishes from the oldest works, in all cases losses or gaps in the paint were identified that had been retouched in previous restorations with varying results. Colour had to be delicately and rigorously reapplied to restore the visual unity of each work. Particularly painstaking work was carried out on Portrait of my Family, by Juan Barroeta, a work in which poor, non-original additions and retouching were visible to the naked eye.