Conservation

  • Art Conservation: Stretching a Very Large Gene Davis Painting

    As often as art conservators do a standard treatment on a work of art in our collection, there is always an opportunity to learn a new approach to solving a challenging task. In the case of Gene Davis: Hot Beat (closing April 2, 2017), paintings conservator Amber Kerr coordinated with staff members from our design and registrar teams to manage the conservation treatments for several extremely large canvas paintings. Each had been rolled in storage for years.
  • Isamu Noguchi: Watering the Art

    Objects conservators have a challenging job. On any given day Ariel O'Connor, an art object conservator at SAAM, might be asked to research, examine, document, and treat works of art made with bronze, wood, plastic, stone, plaster, glass, and many, many other types of materials. The recently-opened Isamu Noguchi exhibition Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern perfectly exemplifies this material diversity, with sculptures ranging from heavy stone obelisks to feather-light delicate bamboo and paper lanterns. Even with years of training and experience, one sculpture is proving to be a unique challenge for Ariel: a 3,000 pound basalt stone fountain titled The Well.
  • Framing The Art of Romaine Brooks

    Romaine Brooks was something of an interior decorator as well as an artist. She took a lively interest in the frame designs and finishes for her artworks. Several of the paintings in the exhibition The Art of Romaine Brooks are in frames that she personally designed or that were prepared under her direction.
    Jeff on September 22, 2016
  • Conserving Duane Hanson's Woman Eating

    For a decade, Duane Hanson's life-like sculpture Woman Eating has fascinated SAAM visitors. With funding provided by the Smithsonian's Women's Committee, conservators were able to research, examine, document, and treat this work for future generations to continue to enjoy.
  • Meet Dan Finn, SAAM's Media Conservator

    As SAAM continues to add time-based media to its collection, conservation of these artforms is becoming an important aspect in our museum. In August 2015 Dan Finn was hired to retrofit an office space and acquire equipment for SAAM's Media Conservation Lab. Dan has a Master's Degree from the New York University's Moving Image and Archiving Program. And we got a chance to talk with him about his work here.
  • Conservation: Keeping Mingering Mike's Hits Supersonic

    Mingering Mike's Supersonic Hits feature a vibrant array of images and colors. Catherine (Kate) Maynor, paper conservator, is responsible for preserving the vitality of Mike's artwork for future audiences. Kate will be presenting a gallery talk on Tuesday, July 7 at 5:30 p.m. about the array of treatments that she performed to keep the artist's works fresh.
    Chris on July 5, 2015
  • Preserving Media Art: A Collaborative Conservation Process

    Media-based artworks, like those presented in our Watch This! Revelations in Media Art exhibition (on view until September 7, 2015), are a relatively new aspect of museum collections. Like all of our artworks, they are cared for and preserved by our team of conservators. Find out more....
    Chris on May 28, 2015
  • Conservation: Cleaning Hiram Powers' Greek Slave

    Allison Rabent is a pre-program volunteer at the Lunder Conservation Center. She is working with conservators on a variety of activities. Allison, along with the project's lead, Conservation Technician Susan Edwards, recently investigated an ongoing treatment of Hiram Powers' Greek Slave and shares their findings with us below. American Art's sculpture curator, Karen Lemmey, contributed to this post.
    Chris on December 18, 2014
  • Conservation: Materials and Materiality in Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman II

    Eric Fischl's Tumbling Woman II is a poignant and provocative sculpture that is on view in American Art's Lincoln Gallery. In addition to the artwork's historical underpinning and evocative pose, it maintains a distinctive materiality that causes a visitor to pause and engage with its subject.
    Chris on November 14, 2014
  • Conservation of Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz

    Today, we celebrate, along with colleagues at the National Museum of American History, the rededication of Gwenfritz, a 40-foot tall abstract sculpture by the esteemed American artist Alexander Calder. The artwork was recently conserved and relocated to the site originally selected by the artist. American History intern Auni Gelles shares five behind-the-scenes pieces of information about on the sculpture's recent restoration.
    Jeff on October 31, 2014