Given The Conservation Center’s history of treating artworks that have succumbed to fire and flood damage, it may surprise you to know that a few of the most common culprits of damage are poor materials, framing, and storage techniques. Luckily, with proper foresight and preparation, most of this damage is preventable. In this article we will examine some of the common "red flags" to look for in consideration of your own framed art and heirlooms.
While The Conservation Center is well known for its fine art conservation capabilities, additional expert services are offered as well. One of our clients, Martha Manning, has become quite familiar with the work that The Center provides, having many of her cherished art and heirloom pieces treated here over the years. As she explains, "I collect objects. I love them whether they are simple or ornate, I love the their accompanying stories and I love preserving them." But when Martha moved from her old home with sky-high ceilings into a 14th floor apartment in a mid-rise building, she was struck with a conundrum. A gigantic gilt mirror that had been in the family for generations would no longer fit in her home, and with such a rich backstory, she knew she couldn't give it up just yet.
The Conservation Center has always been a progressive organization—dedicated not only to preserving art and heirloom collections from the past (and in many cases, the contemporary), but also to embracing the future of a highly specialized conservation business. Now we're looking ahead to the next phase in the company's evolution: The Center is pleased to announce a major expansion within our building, two years after our relocation from River North to the West Town neighborhood in Chicago.
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.
Last month, The Conservation Center spent a lovely Saturday afternoon with more than 40 members of the Freeport Art Museum (FAM)—a jewel of a collection located in Freeport, Illinois, right outside of Rockford. Together with Roberta Kramer, a Chicago-based art appraiser, we made a special presentation that marked the end of a two-year project, which, while not beginning under the most auspicious of circumstances, concluded with cause for celebration. Many key pieces of art from FAM’s collection were properly appraised and saved from water damage that occurred in its 2D storage unit.
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.
In the field of art conservation the terms archival, inert, stable, safe, etc. refer to materials or processing methods that are expected to allow items to be stored for extended periods of time without loss of quality. These materials should not degrade over time and should not contain volatile materials that will be emitted from the material, or ‘off-gas.’ Both degradation products and off-gassing materials can do serious damage to some art materials. Metal, paper, and shells are examples of sensitive materials that can be damaged irreversibly from proximity to ‘unsafe’ materials.
An occurrence which we often encounter at The Center is artwork damaged as a result of improper storage. For those who collect art, it is important to consider the necessity of a reputable fine art storage warehouse. Whether your needs are for temporary storage during construction or home renovations, long-term in cases of fire, flood, or natural disasters, or rotational purposes, both private and corporate art collectors should be informed on the specifics that define a safe and secure storage warehouse.