In 1962 Claes Oldenburg created a body of work for his first one-man show at the Green Gallery, New York. Oldenburg along with his wife Patti Mucha used a portable sewing machine, heavy weight canvas, cardboard boxes, foam, and acrylic paint to create the now iconic giant soft sculptures in the shape of a hamburger, ice-cream cone and a giant piece of cake. Floor Cake entered into the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1975. Since the object’s acquisition the sculpture has been heavily exhibited, including three transatlantic voyages. There are at least two previous treatments on record for this object, one of which involved surface cleaning with chelating agents. The sculpture has 15 square feet of painted cotton canvas, three of which is intended to rest directly in the floor. Part of the ongoing maintenance of this work while on view is to mechanically readjust the interior stuffing by fluffing the layers. The resulting conditions of Floor Cake’s life in a busy museum environment include cracking and paint loss, abrasions, tears and punctures, and extensive surface soiling. Faced with a forty-seven year old five feet wide by nine feet long piece of painted cake, conservators at the Museum of Modern Art were confronted with the re-treatment of Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculpture Floor Cake (Giant Piece of Cake).
Together, Cindy Albertson and Margo Delidow summarized their work, including the investigation of the effects of past treatment and exploration of the practical application of surface cleaning acrylic paint, with Oldenburg’s Floor Cake as a case study. Cindy and Margo presented this project at the 38th Annual Meeting of AIC, and the MoMA highlighted their work as the inaugural project on the Museum's blog, Inside/Out.