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.
Restoration of Portrait of a Lady
Conservator Joe Fronek discusses the restoration of John Singleton Copley's painting Portrait of a Lady.
At first glance, this Tiraz fragment, currently on display in Gifts of the Sultan, might be mistaken for having an embroidered or painted inscription (read from right to left; the bottom row is upside down). Closer inspection reveals that letters were formed during the weaving process using the tapestry weaving technique...
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...