Thursday, May 17, 2012


YESTERDAY's blog entry about looting at the Cairo Museum proves once again how vulnerable ancient treasures are, even in the most protected settings, such as a major museum.

Besides vandalism, museum collections are also vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes. At the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, located in one of the world's most active quake zones, museum officials are taking bold new steps to protect not only their buildings but also the art treasures inside the museum. 

Their efforts coincide with tests by engineers in California to equip buildings with "seismic isolators," basically rubber bearings, such as those used commonly in Japan.

"What the bearings do is uncouple the building from the motion of the ground during an earthquake, like putting the building on roller skates," said Tara Hutchinson, an engineering professor at the University of California, San Diego. 

Rubber base isolators have already been retrofitted under the Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco city halls.

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