Conservation Department Overview

conservationoverview310wideCarnegie Museum of Art’s Conservation Department is staffed by one paintings conservator, one objects conservator, and a secretary. From time to time, the department also hosts volunteers, interns, and special project staff. 

The department serves the Museum’s curatorial departments, including Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Fine Arts, and the Heinz Architectural Center. 

The department was established in 1981 with one paintings conservator on staff and space for a paintings conservation laboratory. With the addition of an objects conservation laboratory in 1991, the physical facility grew to its present size of approximately 2,600 square feet.

The Conservation Department efforts include:

→ Preventive Conservation: The Conservation Department attempts to prevent or limit the causes of deterioration and damage to the collections, including incorrect handling and packing, vandalism, fire, water, pests, airborne contaminants, vibration, light-induced damage, incorrect temperature, and incorrect relative humidity.

→ Conservation Treatment: The staff performs treatment on works of art in the collection that have deteriorated or suffered damage or disfigurement. Treatment processes include cleaning, consolidation, reinforcement, stabilization, restoration, and protection.

→ Research and Documentation: The staff performs technical analysis and photographic documentation to further understand the fabrication, history, and meaning of the collections. Techniques such as infrared photography, radiography, ultraviolet illumination and ultraviolet fluorescence photography, microscopy and ultraviolet fluorescence microscopy, materials identification spot-tests, and stereomicroscopic analysis of surfaces are employed. Photographs and written documentation accompany treatments performed.

→ Conservation Training: The staff has trained numerous interns who later completed graduate training in art conservation and went on to become professional conservators.