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During the past four months, the Proctor Museum has been conducting extensive metallurgic testing on Proctor bronzes across the country. To date, more than 75 bronzes have been tested at five major museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Denver Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the Gilcrease Museum. We have also tested all bronzes at the Proctor Museum, along with many from private collections.

Working with Dr. Bruce Kaiser, chief scientist at Bruker Corp., we use a handheld device called the Tracer to collect the data. Although it looks a bit like a weapon from a Star Trek movie, the Tracer employs X-ray florescent (XRF) technology to collect the metal content of the bronze, without harming the artwork in any way. Dr. Kaiser works with museums and universities across the country, supporting research of art and historical artifacts.

The data collected from the metallurgic testing allows us to analyze each bronze by its alloy content. This data can help determine when the bronze was cast, the foundry it came from, and casting methods. Comparing a large sample of data allows us to find patterns among the metallurgic content of Proctor bronzes.

Metallurgic testing also has given us the opportunity to physically inspect the Proctor bronzes. We have been able to fill in missing details in our records, as well as discover physical patterns among foundries and casting dates.

The Proctor Museum will be traveling to the Brooklyn Museum in the near future for final testing of Proctor bronzes. With the help of Dr. Kaiser, we will complete the research with a detailed report allowing us to analyze all data collected as a whole.

Watch for some exciting findings from this project!

Ann Boulton of the Gilcrease Museum (front) tests a Proctor bronze while Mike Burks (left), Bruce Kaiser (center), and Bob Pickering (right) observe and record results

Ann Boulton of the Gilcrease Museum (front) tests a Proctor bronze while Mike Burks (left), Bruce Kaiser (center), and Bob Pickering (right) observe and record results

Phimister Proctor "Sandy" Church tests the Pioneer Mother at the Denver Art Museum

Phimister Proctor “Sandy” Church tests the Pioneer Mother at the Denver Art Museum

 

Proctor's Buckaroo is tested by staff at the Denver Art Museum. The monumental version of the Buckaroo, the Broncho Buster (seen in background), is located just outside the Denver Art Museum

Proctor’s Buckaroo is tested by staff at the Denver Art Museum. The monumental version of the Buckaroo, the Broncho Buster (seen in background), is located just outside the Denver Art Museum

Testing of Proctor bronzes at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Testing of Proctor bronzes at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

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