Landis Brothers Kayak 

Landis Valley Museum


Before Treatment: Landis Brother's KayakThe closed kayak was one of several constructed by Henry K. and George Landis to be used on their adventurous trip down the Juniata and Susquehanna rivers in the late 1880s. The kayak had a frame constructed from a mix of hard and soft woods which was then covered with painted canvas,. The Landis brothers established the Landis Valley Museum now administered and owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on the grounds of their homestead in the 1920's to display their collection of 75,000 objects, many of which focus upon their Pennsylvania German heritage. The kayak, used for their trip in the summer of 1888, is now part of that institution's growing permanent collection.



Before Treatment: Damaged Front EndThe kayak was in unstable and deteriorated condition when first transported to the conservation lab. Several wooden framing members had been fractured and the painted canvas was brittle, torn, and large sections were missing. The paint, used to waterproof the canvas was severely “alligatored” due to dimensional changes in the canvas and lost flexibility in the oil resin coating. Areas of paint were found to be actively flaking and approximately 10% of the paint had been lost overall. All interior and exterior surfaces were covered by a heavy layer dust and disfigured by deeply embedded grime.



During Treatment: Almost FinishedThe kayak was dry cleaned using soft natural bristle brushes and vacuumed to remove a heavy layer of dust and organic debris. All interior framing members were cleaned using a dilute detergent solution in mineral spirits. All exterior surfaces were cleaned using aqueous gels to reduce deeply embedded grime. The damaged wooden structural members were realigned and adhered using hot hide glue. The painted canvas was consolidated using a reversible thermoplastic resin which permitted areas of lifting paint to be relaxed and set down using heated micro spatulas. Large areas of lost canvas were backed using an archival matt board adhered to the reverse using reversible adhesives. Silicone rubber molds were made to duplicate the highly textured or “alligatored” paint and used to create fills which visually blended with the adjacent original surfaces. The fills were inpainted and the exterior of the kayak was given a final spray application of a reversible synthetic varnish to adjust sheen and protection.


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