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Alumni Professional Venture Fund awardee strives to bring museum audiences closer to lacquerware objects

Alumni Professional Venture Fund awardee strives to bring museum audiences closer to lacquerware objects

PSP alumna Dr. Maria João Petisca used her funding to partner with national universities in Portugal, studying their lacquer collections to assist in their preservation and access.
 
Art conservation and natural history collections

Art conservation and natural history collections

A taxidermy pigeon guillemot was restored to its lively appearance under the care of Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation Fellow Nicole Chausse.
 
WUDPAC summer and third-year placements

WUDPAC summer and third-year placements

Best wishes to our students as they head out to their training placements around the globe, and our thanks to the wonderful host sites and supervisors who will be working with our students over the next several months.
 
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Student Blog: Cleveland Museum of Art

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A student sits at an easel and uses a small brush to place paint on an area of loss in a painting.

​WUDPAC Class of 2024 Fellow Brianna Weakley inpainting Abraham Hondius's The Monkey and the Cat. (Image: Dean Yoder)​

I am currently completing my final year of graduate studies at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) with a year-long internship in paintings conservation at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). At the CMA I have the pleasure of working with a large conservation team and under the direct supervision of Senior Paintings Conservator and Head of Paintings Conservation, Dean Yoder. 

My internship at the CMA has given me a holistic view of the role of a paintings conservator in a large encyclopedic museum. I have had the pleasure of being involved in exhibition preparation, loan examinations, a courier trip, research, outreach, and treatment. Through all these activities I've been lucky to meet and work with an exciting array of people from art handlers and curators to visiting couriers and donors.

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A student, wearing protective gear, applies varnish to a painting lying on a table.

​​Brianna Weakley Varnishing Abraham Hondius's The Monkey and the Cat. (Image: Julianna Ly)​

​One of my major projects has been the treatment of Abraham Hondius's The Monkey and the Cat. This Dutch oil-on-canvas painting depicts a fable of a monkey and a cat that was famous in 17th century Europe. In the story, the monkey forces the cat to reach into a fire and retrieve some chestnuts for him, but leaves the cat with nothing but a burnt paw.​ The fable was often used as a political statement stating a good leader would not lead others into a harmful situation only to reap all the benefits himself. The painting was prioritized for treatment to address heavily abraded passages and scumbled retouching. When I began treatment there were multiple layers of degraded and yellowed varnish that flattened the depth of the composition and obscured the subtle nuances in the fur of the animals. There was also early retouching that partially disguised the abrasions, but the application of it also covered areas of intact original paint. I removed the varnishes and overpaint as much as safely possible and have begun inpainting each pinpoint loss, allowing the original fine brush strokes and nuances to be seen again.

Another aspect of this treatment was replacing the toxic stretcher. The painting was lined in the 1970s and at that time was mounted to an ICA style spring stretcher. This type of stretcher was very popular at that time because it was thought to give continuous even tension to the painting but is now known to have an extremely toxic degradation process related to the cadmium plating on the spring component, which was industrially produced. At the beginning of treatment, we quickly identified this component and its corrosion and I embarked on replacing the stretcher, with attention to health and safety protocols. The painting is now on a custom wooden keyable stretcher.

My internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art has exposed me to a variety of activities and has built on my previous experiences to create a strong foundation for my future in the field of paintings conservation. Throughout the next few months of my internship, I am excited to continue sharing my work through tours and presentations, working with other museum professionals, and honing my treatment skills as I finish multiple large projects.

— Brianna Weakley, WUDPAC Class of 2024​​

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Two details of a painting, showing the careful and delicate building of paint in areas of arasion and loss that have damaged the paint film's appearance.

​Details before (left) and during (right) inpainting. (Images: David Brichford)​

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WUDPAC Class of 2024 Fellow Brianna Weakley is completing her graduate studies with an internship in paintings conservation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, giving her a holistic view of the role of conservation in a large encyclopedic museum.
 
 
5/30/2024
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