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The Materials Information and Technical Resources for Artists (MITRA) online resource was inspired by the work of the late Mark Gottsegen who organized and implemented the Artist Materials Information Education Network, otherwise known as AMIEN. Mark was able to bring together materials experts from the industry, art conservators, and scientists in an effort to make the most up-to-date knowledge regarding artists’ materials readily available. The eventual disappearance of AMIEN was sorely felt throughout the art community, inspiring a handful of individuals to revive Mark’s vision.
The Department of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware is honored to participate in this online initiative which now includes educational resources in addition to an interactive forum that will provide independent information on art materials. It is hoped that the site will serve as a guide for artists who are interested in learning about best practices as well as up-to-date scientific research on contemporary art materials and artistic techniques. The absolute objectivity of the forum makes it especially valuable. Specific brands and products may be mentioned on the site and forum relating to questions, however, no specific brands will be promoted. Any brands mentioned in the site’s resources are meant to serve as comparative examples. MITRA will discuss general conservation topics such as guidance about contacting trained professionals and general tips regarding exhibition, storage, transportation, and handling, but will not recommend or describe restoration materials or techniques. The forum is first and foremost dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased information about artists’ materials.
MITRA is headed by Assistant Professor, conservator, and art materials expert, Brian Baade, and paintings conservator Dr. Kristin DeGhetaldi. Additionally, MITRA’s online forum is overseen by the Moderating Board, comprised of established experts in the fields of art materials, art conservation, and materials science. Finally, a group of art materials manufacturers have generously offered to provide MITRA with technical experts to answer questions relating to the products that they produce.
At present, MITRA is primarily focused on two-dimensional fine art practices, specifically painting, drawing/sketching, and to some extent, mural painting. As the forum continues to evolve, we hope to add other areas of artistic practice including (but not limited to), printmaking, sculpture/pottery, digital photography/design, and fiber art. Additional experts will be invited to join the MITRA Moderating Board to cover these topics. Finally, MITRA hopes to raise funds to broaden its scope and include the independent analysis, testing, and artificial aging of specific art materials. The results will provide further insight into the characterization and stability of commonly available art materials, information that will also prove useful to the conservation community in the immediate future.