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Objects Conservation

Objects conservators provide for the conservation of three-dimensional works of art in the Museum's collections. Staff members also provide conservation support on a number of archaeological excavations, including those sponsored by the Museum, as well as on other international projects.

Now at the Met

Hidden Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Technology

Anna Serotta, Independent Conservator; and Federico Carò, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015

Archaeological objects and works of art in museum collections are not only treasured for their aesthetic qualities, but are also repositories of invaluable information, often concealed at a first sight, about the civilizations that created them. Among the many beautiful pieces in the collection of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art, it is interesting to note one modest stone fragment (fig.1), the scientific investigation of which has provided a clue that could solve a long-time debate among Egyptologists and historians of technologies: the use of high-performance abrasives.

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Asking Questions of a Tenth-Century Carved Wood Panel

Matt Saba, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I am sometimes met with raised eyebrows when I tell friends that part of what I do here at the Met is research the permanent collection of the Department of Islamic Art. After all, the collection is world famous, and in the century since its formation numerous experts have dedicated time and energy to its care. What more is there to research? One of the joys of working with complex artifacts, however, is that there is often more to be discovered, even if the object is well known and has been carefully documented and described in the past. New ways of looking at art emerge as the tools that curators and conservators have at their disposal become increasingly sophisticated, and, because the field of art history itself is always evolving, the questions that specialists ask of objects also change over time.

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Now at the Met

Restoring Bhairava's Ear

Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In 2012, this imposing Bhairava's mask came to the Museum as a part of an important donation from The Zimmerman Family Collection, and it is now on display in the newly renovated gallery 252. The sixteenth-century gilt and polychrome copper mask of Bhairava from Nepal had a significant loss to its appearance—its right ear was missing, and its attribute, a large copper pendant earring for the left ear, had been used as a substitute.

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Now at the Met

Diamond in the Rust: Conserving a Damascened Tibetan Knife

Marlene April Yandrisevits, Former Graduate Intern, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Looking closely at historical artifacts is one of the chief privileges and joys of being an art conservator, and I am thrilled to share with you a close look at one of the extraordinary objects currently on view in the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas. While this ritual blade is immediately striking in its sinuous form and elaborate decoration, closer examination reveals an inspiring display of technical skill and master artistry.

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Now at the Met

Understanding and Sustaining Cultures: The Conservation of Nepalese Jewelry

Nina Pascucci, Former College Intern, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

I've always been drawn to the role that art and artifacts play in shaping our collective history and culture. As a college intern in the Department of Objects Conservation here at the Met, I recently had the unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with beautiful jewelry from Nepal while assisting with the preparation for the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas.

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Now at the Met

Creating Contrast through Elaborate Details: Technical Analysis and Conservation of an Avalokitesvara

Mandira Chhabra, Assistant Conservator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India; Daniel Hausdorf, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015

This beautiful image of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara holds a lotus as his principal attribute (fig. 1). On view in the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, the gilded figure and its lotus-inspired pedestal are made of a single block of sandalwood, a wood species that holds spiritual meaning throughout Asia. The exceptional carving found here is a rare surviving example of a Nepalese tradition with a long history, one which ultimately can be traced back to India.

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Now at the Met

Beneath the Surface: Technical Analysis of a Vajrabhairava Figurine

Mandira Chhabra, Assistant Conservator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India; Daniel Hausdorf, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015

A gift to the Museum in 1949, this image of Vajrabhairava was not placed on display for many years (fig. 1). In conjunction with the work's display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, however, the Departments of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research examined this figure in order to shed light on the materials and the production technique of this unusual representation.

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In Season

The Portal of Villeloin-Coulangé at The Cloisters: Attribution After Eighty Years of Anonymity

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens; and Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every curator, at one point or another, has to grapple with questions of provenance. In the case of medieval stone sculpture, works often come to us in fragmentary states, roughly removed from their original sites during revolutionary events, or cautiously salvaged from monuments that have not been cared for over time. Conservators, scientists, and art historians often collaborate to solve questions of geographic origin and attribution.

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Now at the Met

Conservation Through a Gamer's Eye

Ashira Loike, Assistant Administrator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Beth Edelstein, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2014

What happens when gaming students are let loose on the Met's collection? We found our answer to this question this past spring when staff from the Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation collaborated with a group of intrepid and creative students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The students were supervised by their professor, Elizabeth Goins, in a course titled "Interactive Design for Museums," part of RIT's Museum Games & Technology Initiative. The students were tasked with communicating the inside information conservators gather from studying the materials and techniques of works of art through a fun and engaging game aimed at general audiences.

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In Circulation

"Pre-Coated Repair Materials": A Book-Conservation Workshop

Mindell Dubansky, Preservation Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Sherman Fairchild Center for Book Conservation in Watson Library recently hosted a hands-on workshop taught by Sarah Reidell—conservator of rare books, paper, and parchment at the New York Public Library's Barbara Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory—entitled "Pre-Coated Repair Materials." This intermediate-level program was developed for conservators and advanced technicians with a thorough knowledge of common repair techniques for paper and parchment conservation. The workshop included training in the preparation of toned and untoned water-, solvent-, and heat-reactivated, pre-coated repair materials used for the conservation and stabilization of book and paper artifacts. During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to experiment on sample materials and to create comparative sample sets for future reference.

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