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How science aids conservation

Winterthur Senior Conservator of Objects and WUDPAC Professor Bruno Pouliot is featured in a new article that delves into how conservators maintain the delicate balance between critical thought and scientific analysis.

Preserving natural disasters

In a recent post on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco blog, WUDPAC Fellow José Luis Lazarte Fellow discusses his graduate internship at FAMSF working with the materials of Alan Sonfist, an artist whose pencil renderings of seismograms immortalized two California earthquakes.

Cleaning with care

In a video recently released by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, WUDPAC alumna Lydia Vagts—the museum's Cunningham Associate Conservator of Paintings—discusses the considerations involved in her treatment of Van Gogh's 1890 painting “House at Auvers.”

Conservators plan study trip to Cuba

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced plans to send a group of U.S. conservators, students, and graduates from the University of Delaware to Cuba to learn about the preservation challenges faced there.

The conservation detective

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  • Gerrit Albertson. "The Bibliophile," a 1932 painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins, is painted over an unfinished portrait of a man (courtesy of the Bryn Mawr College Special Collections Dept).
  • Gerrit Albertson. Eakins. spectroscopic imagery, beneath the seated reader, there is an unfinished, sketchy-looking painting of a half-length male figure; the head is visible (courtesy NGA).

The work of WUDPAC Fellow Gerritt Albertson was recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the surprising secret hidden beneath a painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins.

Art conservation and the markings of time

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  • ARTC eblast June 2016. Fellow Jessica Chasen applying cyclodo-decane to the cracks in the ivory with  a kistka
  • ARTC eblast June 2016. Chasen.solvent gel being used  to reduce the paint stains on the ivory.
  • ARTC eblast June 2016. Chasen. Two of the forks, versos before treatment.
  • ARTC eblast June 2016. Chasen. Two of the forks, versos after treatment and re-numbering.
  • ARTC eblast June 2016. Chasen. An X-radiograph of the cutlery reveals  hollow handles with internal tang and counterweights.

It was not illegal in the 19th century to import elephant ivory; the material was exotic to early Americans, and highly valued. WUDPAC Fellow Jessica Chasen recently began treating six ivory-handled knives and forks from the Winterthur Museum’s collection, made by a firm called Horton & Co. in Sheffield, England, and once displayed in the museum’s Pine Kitchen.

Art conservation and bygone modernity

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  • ARTC eblast May 2016. Sam Owens. Recto detail of paste stones and band, before treatment.
  • ARTC eblast May 2016. Sam Owens. Recto of comb with missing tooth, before treatment.
  • ARTC eblast May 2016. Sam Owens. Verso of comb with missing tooth, before treatment.
  • ARTC eblast May 2016. WUDPAC Fellow Samantha Owens applies gentle weight after heating and humidification of deformed area of comb
  • ARTC eblast May 2016. Sam Owens.  selection  of tinted epoxies.
  • ARTC eblast May 2016. Sam Owens. he replacement tooth made with tinted epoxy imitating tortoiseshell.

Decorative hair combs were a popular adornment for the heavy, upswept hairstyles popular before World War I. Many of these combs were made from a very modern material – plastic – which presented conservation challenges for second-year Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation Fellow Samantha Owens.

Student Blog: FAMSF and El Prado

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  • Lazarte blog. Erasing graphite smudges on Sonfist’s drawing on canvas, California Earthquake, 1969 (photo: Sarah Assanti)
  • Lazarte blog. Conducting an outgoing condition report for a painting by J. M. W. Turner (photo: Elise Effmann Clifford).
  • Lazarte blog. Performing XRF analysis of Claude Lorrain’s Landscape with Cowherd, 1644? (photo: Sarah Kleiner).

In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2016 Fellow José Luis Lazarte shares his internship experience working with conservators at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and conducting research on works from his summer at El Prado Museum in Madrid.

Art conservation and a journey home

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  • ARTC eblast April 2016. WUDPAC Fellow Leah Bright examining the Tlingit  basket during treatment
  • ARTC eblast April 2016. Leah Bright. Detail  of a tear in the rim of the basket before treatment
  • ARTC eblast April 2016. Leah Bright. Japanese tissue mends used  to reattach three fragments to the rim of  the basket
  • ARTC eblast April 2016. Leah Bright. The basket rim before  reattachment of the six fragments
  • ARTC eblast April 2016. Leah Bright. The basket rim after treatment with all repairs highlighted.

Students are seldom able to see an object they have treated be returned to its cultural homeland. WUDPAC Fellow Leah Bright is an exception, since the more than 100-year-old Tlingit basket she treated has been recently returned to Alaska in the care of modern-day Tlingit weaver and basket maker Teri Rofkar.

Student Blog: Cleveland Museum of Art

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  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland. Working on Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #797. Photo by Jacinta Johnson
  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland.Testing solvents for varnish removal on Jean-Achille Benouville’s Landscape with Rider on a White Horse (1846).
  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland. Removing overpaint on Jean-Achille Benouville’s Landscape with Rider on a White Horse (1846).
  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland. Inpainting areas of loss and abrasion on Albert Bloch’s View of a Factory (1911)
  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland. Vacuuming the verso of Albert Bloch’s View of a Factory (1911).
  • Bianca Garcia. Cleveland.Pre-stretching a canvas in preparation for lining. Photo by Dean Yoder.

In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2016 Fellow Bianca Garcia discusses her internship experience at the Cleveland Museum of Art, working alongside conservation department staff on a wide range of installation and treatment projects including the complex process of restoring glossy and matte surfaces to a painting by artist Albert Bloch.

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