Paper Conservation

Consolidation of flaking gouache paint on Reproduction of a fresco with two women in a chariot by Emile Gilliéron, père. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Dodge Fund, 1912 (12.58.3)

The Paper Conservation Department, which is part of the Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photographic Conservation, is dedicated to the preservation, technical analysis, and research of works of art on paper, parchment, and related materials from all periods and cultures held in the Museum's vast collection so that they may be made available for exhibition, education, scholarship, and study.

Paper conservators undertake research; they advise and collaborate with curators, conservation colleagues and scientists within the Museum and at other museums and educational institutions on the material and physical aspects of art objects of this type. The work that they perform includes:

Examination: Assessment of the condition, materials and techniques of works of art for the purpose of treatment, research, authentication, acquisition. Examination is also carried out to determine the suitability of these objects for research, loans and exhibitions.

Conservation treatment: Through research, examination and analysis, conservators devise and carry out treatments of works of art based on scientific methodologies, conservation protocols, and ethical standards. Treatment requires knowledge of the object, its constituent materials, and related objects.

Preservation: A major component in the care of the collection is ensuring the appropriate environmental and storage parameters. These factors include light levels, temperature and humidity, and quality, housing for display, storage, methods of handling and transport. Paper conservators serve as couriers to ensure that these conditions are met when a work is loaned to another institution.

Research and publications: Many of the department's conservation and research projects address specific issues related to a particular work art or artists. They require research and testing of modern and traditional media and supports, deterioration processes, conservation materials, and investigation of historical processes also known as technical art history.

Education: Paper conservators are integral to the Museum's educational mission. They serve as mentors and teachers to conservators in training, participate in seminars, workshops and conferences; they present lectures to the public, to professional and academic audiences within the Museum and at outside institutions. The Paper Conservation Department gives ongoing presentations to graduate students, colleagues, and special groups.

Radiograph of the replica of the Mask of Agamemnon

The Museum's blogs offer in-depth articles related to scientific research and the conservation of objects, paintings, paper, and photographs.

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

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