WUDPAC alumnae are featured in a recent New York Times story about the increasing popularity of open conservation labs in museums. Excerpted from the January 21, 2020 article by Lauren Sloss:
never-ending quest for engagement in a short attention-span world,
museums around the world have long looked for ways to spice up visitor
experiences. But as after-hours gatherings and dedicated Instagram
experiences continue to take off, a time-honored practice has
surprisingly gained traction, and become a destination-worthy draw:
conservation, or art restoration, done in the public eye. “Open conservation,” or art-restoration labs set up to be viewed, and sometimes, interacted with, have increasingly become a part of museums’ offerings. Promising transparency in practices, open conservation ideally engages museumgoers on a deeper level. Higher profile conservation projects are gaining attention, from the live, multimedia-supported restoration of Rembandt’s “The Night Watch” at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to this year’s new, open conservation lab at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
It might be worth working into your next travel itinerary, whether
you’re a dedicated conservation nerd or a casual art appreciator, one of
these four stateside spots to watch conservation in action. . . .
The Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum was one of the first to open a visible conservation center, just over 13 years ago. “It’s
not just the painting on the wall or the sculpture you can’t touch,”
explains Amber Kerr, the chief of conservation at the museum. “It’s an
inlet into the complexity of the art world. We talk about x-rays, unique
gadgets that look at art in a unique way. It’s not something you need a
higher art knowledge to appreciate.” Since then, their programming
has grown to include conservation workshops, focusing on topics like
the effects of climate change on cultural heritage, and tours and
activities targeting families across five laboratories and studios. “We’re
getting this heightened awareness that these things are fragile and
that they can disappear,” Ms. Kerr said. “People are seeing the
responsibility of preserving cultural heritage. They want to know what
goes into it.”
To read about all the open conservation labs profiled in the article, visit the New York Times website here.