Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:2:08

Protecting art in an earthquake: seismic isolator technology

Video transcript

- [voiceover] What might happen to a fragile work of art during a major earthquake? The heavy carved marble sculpture, simulated here, is inherently unstable in an earthquake because of its shape and volume. (rumblings) Without anything to buffer an earthquakes jagged movements the sculpture would likely topple. (marble shattering) (violent rumblings) Even bolting it to a base however, would not necessarily protect it during an earthquake. (violent rumblings) (marble shattering) The best way to stabilize a sculpture like this one is to isolate it from the ground's movement. The sculpture is bolted to a base constructed of three individual frames. The top two frames slide on rollers to absorb and diffuse the earth's movement. Springs provide resistance and act as brakes to restrain and finally slow the sliding frames. During an earthquake the assembled frames slide independently on separate horizontal planes. (violent rumblings) An isolator does not entirely stop an object from moving, instead it dramatically reduces how much the force of an earthquake is transmitted to the object. The Getty Museum developed this technology and shares it worldwide. The result is works of art that are protected for all to enjoy.