As 2020 comes to a close, we have faced many challenges together— whether it be related to COVID-19, the uncertainties surrounding us, or the treatments that we approach in the conservation laboratories. We came into this year with many questions— what is the new normal, and how will this current environment change how we approach conservation and our mission to preserve collections and educate the future generation of conservators and museum staff?
The WACC team had the privilege of returning to our studios at Stone Hill Center in May of this past year, hitting the ground running with the excitement of returning to the work and art objects that we love. The articles in this issue of the Art Conservator are reflective of the passion and careful care that we apply to the works in your collection.
In many ways we are fortunate: the over-sized nature of our laboratories have accommodated social distancing whilst allowing for collaboration and the ability to take on new work from our WACC members and clients. We offer virtual consultations and allow clients to drop off art works in our enclosed atrium without coming into contact with our conservation staff. Our administrative staff and conservation technicians have been instrumental in facilitating the ease of our transition to the new normal, and we are incredibly thankful to them.
We’ve been excited this past year to have three new staff members join our team in both Williamstown and Atlanta. Katya Birukova has joined our Atlanta team as an associate conservator of paintings and as far as our educational mission, we were excited in September to have two additional team members: Rachel Childers returned to the Paintings Conservation Department as a post-graduate fellow and Lila Reid arrived as a pre-program intern in the Department of Furniture and Frames Conservation. Rachel had completed her pre-program training at WACC prior to completing the prestigious Buffalo State College graduate program and is spending a year with us before continuing to the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAAL) in Maastricht, NL for another rigorous post-graduate fellowship. Before graduating with a degree in art history and a minor in the fine arts, Lila Reid completed a pre-program internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; with a focus on the conservation of wooden objects, she is currently working on a variety of projects in our department of wooden objects and frames as she prepares to apply for graduate school in conservation.
We continue to innovate and our staff is pursuing various research interests under the guidance of Christine Puza, Head of our Analytical Lab. As we continue to work on a number of Dutch Patroon paintings from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art (AIHA), Rachel is working together with our paintings conservation team and Christine Puza to examine the type of red lake pigments used on 18th century Dutch Limner paintings. This project is in its beginning stages and will be a collaborative effort with the Chemistry Department at Williams College and AIHA. It’s safe to say that the FTIR microscope purchased with our recent Mellon grant is being put to good use between all of our departments. We look forward to sharing this research in the future.
In this issue of the Art Conservator, you will find details on the conservation projects that transport you to: a glimpse behind the doors of a 16th century Netherlandish Triptych, a Victorian card stand that someone like Mr. Willoughby might have used, the romantic Adirondack sketchbooks from adventurers in the 19th century, and marionettes from a play that influenced the art of young African Americans in the Washington D.C. Shaw school district of the 1930s… to name a few of the stories we’d like to share. The world of art and the dissemination of it as a portal to the immaterial aesthetic and self-reflective world will always bring us together through challenging times.
Detail from Made in the USA
| Robert Carter, c. 20th century, mixed media on pressed wood fiber board, Empire State Plaza Art Collection
Art Conservator is a publication of the Williamstown + Atlanta Art Conservation Center
All rights reserved. Text and photographs copyright © Williamstown + Atlanta Art Conservation Center, unless otherwise noted. Art Conservator is a triannual publication. Material may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the Williamstown + Atlanta Art Conservation Center. The Center is a nonprofit, multi-service conservation center serving the needs of member museums, nonprofit institutions and laboratories, and the general public.