Art and science are sometimes seen as opposites but they come together in the Conservation Center at LACMA. In on-site laboratories, teams of specialists examine and treat works of art, using sophisticated technology.

LACMA's Conservation Center was established in 1967, two years after the museum opened. It was the first conservation department on the West Coast, a testament to the commitment of the museum's director and board of trustees to preserve the permanent collection.

The center has grown to encompass six areas of conservation expertise: paintings, textiles, paper, objects, collections management, and research. Its staff of more than twenty-five includes conservators, scientists, technicians, fellows, interns, photographers, and administrators.

These highly trained professionals collaborate closely with other museum departments to care for both the permanent collection and works on loan from other institutions. Their diverse responsibilities include documenting condition, diagnosing problems, and recommending repairs; monitoring the museum environment to ensure that appropriate temperature, humidity, and light levels are maintained; and establishing procedures for safe storage and transport.


Image: Susan Schmalz, Associate Textile Conservator, center, dresses a male mannequin circa 1810 for the installation of LACMA’s Fashioning Fashion at the Deutsches Historisches Museum.

Paintings Lab
R.B. Kitaj
Paper Lab
Robert Rauschenberg
Booster, 1967
Objects Lab
Anthony Caro
Textiles Lab
Portuguese Hat

Restoration of Portrait of a Lady

Conservator Joe Fronek discusses the restoration of John Singleton Copley's painting Portrait of a Lady.

Calder’s “Hello Girls”: History of a Commission

On March 31, 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) opened its doors in a new complex with several large outdoor sculptures, among which was Calder’s monumental Three Quintains (Hello Girls). In 1962 LACMA’s Art Museum Council (AMC) had organized a “fountain committee” to acquire for the museum a significant sculpture for the new Hancock Park location…

High School Interns Help with Conservation at Watts Towers

This summer, an exciting project has been happening at the Watts Towers Conservation Center. With support from the Ahmanson Foundation and in partnership with the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, LACMA created an eight-week internship during which three graduates of the UCLA/Getty Program are paired with two recent graduates of Verbum Dei High School...