The Cinema and Miniature Museum
An Elkem Silicones Partnerships
A prehistoric Hollywood giant comes alive.
The Cinema and Miniature Museum, located in the heart of Lyon’s historical center, is the home of two rare and unusual collections: over 100 hyperrealist miniature models and a unique exhibition in Europe of over 400 original film props and special-effects models. In 2015, Elkem Silicones contributed to the restoration of the Museum’s centerpiece, the Alien Queen, graciously providing a perfectly adapted silicone to complete this complex and meticulous job. In 2016, Elkem Silicones continued to support the Museum, by supplying it with silicone for the restoration (currently underway) of the Triceratops head from Jurassic Park by Steven Spielberg. We met with Dan Ohlmann, founder and director of the Museum.
The last time we met, you told us you’ve been using silicone right from the start of the Museum. Tell us a bit how you’ve evolved in what you do with silicones over the years.
It’s true, we’ve been using silicones since the Museum was founded in 1986. At the beginning, we worked with Rhône Poulenc Chimie, which supplied us with the silicone for our very fine and complex molds to make our miniatures. Since 2007, we have added the Cinema section to our Museum and we use silicone to restore major special effects props made with latex foam, which decomposes and flakes over time. What we do is inject very liquid silicone, which only Elkem Silicones can make to “botox” these props so that they can come to life again.
So, in fact, you are a plastic surgeon, in the literal sense of the word?
Absolutely! The procedure is exactly the same as surgery practiced on people, since we inject micro-drops to restructure the skin, latex in this case, using extremely fine syringes. Our goal is to give this skin a “second youth”, by reinforcing the underlying structure without it showing. Furthermore, because this latex is mounted on mobile steel “skeletons”, we want to maintain the suppleness of the original so that these robotic monsters can move like they did before. We recovered the Alien Queen in Los Angeles in a pitiful state and we brought her back to Lyon. In all, 10 people worked on her for a year, including six people from the Museum, and today the Alien Queen reigns supreme in our permanent exhibit.
What was the main technical challenge in carrying out this work?
Our main requirement was to have a silicone that was liquid enough to be injected and merge into the latex. We also needed to have a short reticulation or bonding reaction that would allow us to work on the material properly. As I was saying, when we began in 1986, we used silicones for complex and very fine molds. To do that, we were constantly exchanging ideas with Elkem Silicones to come up with the best solutions. Ever since we’ve been working on large cinema props, we’ve continued this quality discussion, both technically and artistically. Thus, Lisbeth Langsager, Business Development Manager of Elkem Silicones for the Molding market, and her team have been studying our very demanding needs and graciously provided us with 120 liters of Elkem Silicones Bluesil™ RTV-3325, a very fluid product perfectly adapted to our requirements. I have been sincerely touched by their ability to listen, their expertise and their artistic sensitivity, enabling us to find the right product.
And for the Jurassic Park Triceratops head?
Today, we’re once again working with Elkem Silicones teams to see how we can produce an even more fluid product for the restoration of the Triceratops, but frankly the existing product perfectly fits the bill. We’re going to have more and more work in the years to come because we’ve built up a global reputation for restoring special effects props. Major studios and producers are now asking us to restore their best pieces and, in exchange, they give us the right to expose these masterpieces on an exclusive basis for several months. I love this spirit of sharing that we initiated with Elkem Silicones, our Lyon neighbor, and that we’ve now extended to the whole world.
The Jurassic Park Triceratops head in numbers :
3 meters in diameter
8 m2 of latex surface
5 months of restoration work by 3 people at the of Cinema and Miniature Museum
70 liters of Bluesil™ RTV-3325 silicone
The cast of the Jurassic Park Triceratops restoration team :
Dan Ohlmann – Founder and Director of the Cinema and Miniature Museum
Laurie Chareyre – In charge of loans and acquisitions of the Cinema and Miniature Museum and discoverer of the Triceratops in Los Angeles
Alain Biélik – Founder and Editor-in-Chief of SFX magazine, provider of technical documents
Johnathan Breton and Dan Ohlmann – main restorers of the latex skin and the parts made of resin
Lisbeth Langsager – Business Development Manager of Elkem Silicones, coordinator of the research to find the right silicone used in the restoration.
Cinema and Miniature Museum :
60 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon, France.
Tel. 33 4 72 00 24 77