“Magnetic Mounting Systems for Museums and Cultural Institutions” by Gwen Spicer

Gwen is an AIC Kress Publication Fellowship recipient and is currently finishing her first book, “Magnetic Mounting Systems for Museums and Cultural Institutions”. The book will be a practical guide for understanding magnetic systems and will assist both conservators and museum professionals in the creation of magnetic mounts.

Understanding magnetic systems is crucial for the successful creation of mounts for various artifacts, including textiles, paper and objects. The book will include in-depth knowledge of magnetic systems, including how magnets work, along with easy to follow case studies illustrating actual mounts and the professionals who created them.

The book is a necessity for conservators, mount makers, preparators and any museum professional who work on creating exhibits using magnets to mount artifacts. The book will be finished at the end of 2018. Stay tuned for information about the availability of the book and its distribution.

A word (or two) about magnets and magnetic systems:

Magnets are an old technology, known and used by the Greeks and ancient Chinese for navigation.  However, in the field of Art Conservation they have been used sparingly until recently.  Magnets have unlimited potential for the profession.  Using magnets as a reversible fastener may have been slow to enter the field, but here at Spicer Art Conservation we have embraced them fully.

Spicer Art Conservation, LLC is always researching and experimenting to find the best means of using magnets to mount, store and treat artifacts. Read our blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio for recent findings.  If you are looking for information about mounting textiles or other artifacts with magnets, visit our page about display and mounting. Also, look for the upcoming release of Gwen’s book “Magnetic Mounting Systems for Museums and Cultural Institutions”.

CONSERVATORS and MUSEUM PROFESSIONALS USING MAGNETS.  If you are using magnets in your conservation, or mount making work, I would be very interested in hearing more about your technique.  I am always interested in the way that other conservators and preparators have used magnets.  And if you haven’t guessed; I love to talk about magnets so please contact me with your magnet questions!

Many professionals have systems or treatments they have shared with me for the book  “Magnetic Mounting Systems for Museums and Cultural Institutions”.  Example case studies from conservators across all disciplines will be included.



Presentations on Magnetic Systems:

You can view the presentation I did for the 2016 Mountmakers Forum in Cleveland, by following the this video link: “Stick to it Magnetic Mount-niers!”.  (The video is at the far left, second row).

Published articles on Magnetic Systems:

“Magnets as an Alternative to Velcro”, poster presented at AIC’s 43rd Annual Meeting in Miami, FL, May 2015

Storage and Display of Historic Double-sided Banners“, poster presented at NATCC’s Meeting in New York, NY, November 2015

“The How and Why for Reusing Rare Earth Magnets”, Book and Paper Annual (AIC), vol. 34, 2015.

“Ferrous Attractions: The Science Behind the Conservation Use of Rare-Earth Magnets” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, vol. 55, no. 2, 96-116, 2016.

“Survey of Magnet Use in Conservation” E-Conservation (pending). This article will be made available once it has been published. In the meantime, you can contact Gwen directly at to discuss the findings of the survey.

“Ferrous Attractions: The science behind the magic” hands-on session, Textile Specialty Group, AIC (pending). This article will be made available once it has been published. In the meantime, you can contact Gwen directly at to discuss the findings of the hands-on session.

“An Alternative to Velcro? Upper Edge Hanging Methods Using Rare Earth Magnets” , WAAC Newsletter, vol. 35, 3: 20-25.

“Defying Gravity with Magnetism” AICNews (Nov. 2010) vol. 35, 6:1,3-5.

“The Re-Tufting of a Hunzinger Arm-Chair” NATCC, Quebec City, Canada, Fall 2009


08-52 MWPAI - Hunzinger Armchair AT 14 copy
After treatment image of a Hunzinger Chair with magnet tufting technique.


CHARTS and ARTICLES about Magnetic Properties and Magnetic Systems:

Many of the publications listed above feature charts or illustrations about magnets. The following is a quick link to some of our most referenced charts.  Also a link to some of our most cited references, including books, articles and online sources.

Types of Magnets and their properties

Properties of Neodymium rare earth magnets

Types of steel and their gauges. An inverse relationship, this chart shows how strength increases as gauge number decreases.

Conservation projects that used rare earth magnets

Developing a Universal Language to Describe Magnetic Mounting Systems. This “Spicer” method is useful for any conservator using magnets. It will help to fully and concisely describe each component of the system.


Books or articles about sustainability and the environmental impact of using Rare Earth Magnets

Books or articles about the use of Rare Earth Magnets in Art Conservation