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.