The Center's Gilding Department specializes in the preservation of frames and objects with gold, silver, and metal leaf applied to the surface. A wonderful example of the type of projects our Gilding Conservators frequently undertake recently came to us in the form of a mirror in need of conservation.
Whether ancient, contemporary, or any time in between, there are countless types of artwork of all styles and ages that challenge conservators. Every piece of artwork has its own nuances and characteristics that are the result of the artist’s technique, the materials used, and the conditions the artwork experiences over the years. When it comes to conservation there is probably no type of artwork as commonly complex as traditional Asian screens. Typically constructed of paper decorated with paints, gilding, and stretched over a wooden support, Asian screens are a type of object that can require consultations including conservators in many different specialties. Collaboration between paper, furniture, painting, and gilding conservators can be critical to determine the appropriate treatment and achieve successful results when treating Asian screens.
When asked to describe conservation work, most people think of old discolored paintings and fine art prints with stains and tears - items that need to be treated for decades or even centuries of damage. But time is not a prerequisite for conservation treatment. The reality is that at The Conservation Center, contemporary items arrive at our doors everyday in need of treatment. Recently we had the pleasure of treating two contemporary, functional items by Surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg.
One of the misconceptions concerning work performed at an art treatment facility such as The Conservation Center is that an object or a piece of art must have significant value on the market to qualify for professional care. This is simply not the case. While many of our clients have high-end pieces that belong to large-scale collections and museums, our conservators also specialize in treating family antiques and heirlooms that have sentimental value.
Family heirlooms connect generations in a deep, personal way. From the handed down bible and grandmother’s knitted quilt, to a late 1800s baptismal gown and photos of a relative going off to war—anyone who has found or kept historic pieces in the family knows how moving they can be. These treasured items, passed down through the decades, provide insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family's history.
The weather's heating up, but there are no signs of slowing down at The Conservation Center. From intricate conservation projects to private tours, our staff is hard at work in West Town. To celebrate the new season, we are bringing back our popular "A Day in the Life" photo series. With our camera in hand, we wandered around the lab and captured some amazing images to share with you.
Our staff at The Conservation Center is always up for a good challenge, so when an elaborate frame surrounding a 17th-century Spanish Colonial painting (most likely from Peru) came to us for repairs recently, we rallied not one, but two conservators from different departments to collaborate on this project. Towering at 6 feet tall by 9 ½ feet wide, the sheer size of this frame is impressive enough before even considering the stunning craftsmanship and details worked into the edges and corners. The Center's Senior Gilder and Frames Conservator teamed up with our Senior Furniture Conservator and worked their magic on this amazing frame.
This year’s cool Chicago summer months flew by fast, but The Conservation Center has been brimming with activities. Our warehouse currently has a record-breaking 7,000 pieces currently in storage, waiting to be conserved--keeping our expert conservators challenged by exciting new projects that cross many disciplines. Our "A Day in the Life" photo essay in January allowed readers a behind-the-scenes peek into The Conservation Center team at work. We’ve once again compiled a series of candid images, capturing a slice of daily life in our work space.
The art world abuzz as galleries from around the world prepare to descend upon Chicago this September for the third annual International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art—or EXPO Chicago as it’s informally known. The Conservation Center is thrilled to announce its participation once again as the art fair’s official conservators and framers.
Start spreading the news: The Conservation Center is truly excited to announce a remarkable partnership with Crozier Fine Arts—New York's foremost fine and decorative arts storage and logistics company. Together, we have launched the Art Conservation Shuttle, fully connecting The Center's interdisciplinary conservators in one the nation's largest art conservation labs to our friends and growing client base on the East Coast. New York's art community can now enjoy museum-quality, art conservation services with an efficient turnaround timetable at competitive costs.
On any given day, taking a walk through The Conservation Center’s 25,000 square foot facilities, with a 10,000 square foot storage space, is always quite an experience—because you’ll never know what kind of artworks and cultural objects you might encounter. Since our dedicated staff members are all art enthusiasts here at The Center, we love geeking out at the amazing items we work on every day. This spring, we have had the pleasure of either conserving or preserving some unexpected pieces. We’ve compiled a series of visual highlights documenting what makes The Conservation Center such a delightful place to work.