The Objects and Sculpture Department determines the best course of treatment to maintain the cultural and historical significance of the object and ensure its long-term preservation. 

The Object and Sculpture conservators have a broad knowledge of materials and fabrication techniques. This department treats ethnographic and fine art objects made from materials including, but not limited to: stone, ivory, wood, ceramic, glass, and metal.

Due to the wide range of materials used, the treatments employed by the objects conservators range in complexity from simple surface cleanings to the reconstruction of shattered ceramics. Past treatments include the restoration of models of historic battleships,  fabrication of missing handles on a Qianlong dynasty vase, and recreating the missing marquetry of a Boulle clock.     

The Object and Sculpture conservators often collaborate with The Center’s Framing and Display Department to construct specially-made mounts and UV-filtering vitrines to house and display pieces. 

Treatment Gallery

Footsteps. art deco figural sculpture c. 1928. Demetre H. Chiparus(1886-1947). Ivory Bronze, and Marble. Age-related Loss.

Zulu Pot. Ceramic. Impact damage.

Boy with Flute. Gilt Brass. Impact Damage.

Multi-colored bird figure.  Glazed Ceramic.  Impact Damage.

Boulle work clock c. 19th Century.  Wood, Brass, and Tortoise Shell.  Age-Related Damage.

Mask Figure on a base.  Paolo Soleri. Stone.  Impact Damage.

stories related to objects and sculpture conservation:

Preserving an Antiques Market Treasure: Saint Rose


When wandering a flea or antique market, one just never knows what treasures there are to be found. From terrific steals to relics from a past long forgotten, there is usually something to excite the fancy of just about anyone. During one of his frequent visits to the Grayslake Antiques market, The Conservation Center’s client Robert Le Clerq had one such awe-inspiring moment that brought him back into his younger days. He came upon an old, carved wooden sculpture that immediately reminded him of nuns of the order of the Sacred Heart. Though this probably would not be significant to most, Mr. Le Clerq has fond recollections of Barat College. From serving mass as an alter boy, to watching his older sister graduate, to even dating a few of the girls who attended the private Catholic school, Sacred Heart had played a significant role in Mr. Le Clerq’s younger days.

Don't Do It Yourself: Cautionary Tales of At-Home Art Treatments


There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. And while spotless living spaces make a house a home, many of us unfortunately have to use harsh chemicals and solvents to achieve that goal. The application of products found under the kitchen sink can lead to chemical reactions on the surface of art objects that can prove to be quite serious, resulting in detrimental losses that are usually so much greater than the reward of a home cleaning approach. When it comes to caring for your art and antiques while freshening up around the house, we strongly advise our readers to adhere to the “DDIY” rule—Don’t Do it Yourself—and leave the job to professional art conservators.

A Little More Sweeney Todd Than You Might Think: Preserving a Vintage Barber Pole


In preparation for a new exhibition entitled By All Accounts: The Story of Elmhurst, The Conservation Center recently joined forces with the Elmhurst Historical Museum to help get a few artifacts in its archives in tip-top shape. This innovative exhibit contains numerous photographs, artifacts, art objects, and informational materials from the last 165 years showcasing the growth and development of Elmhurst, a Chicago suburb. After an on-site assessment at the museum, The Center identified a few objects that needed our conservation team's attention--notably a vintage barber pole, dated from the turn of the 19th century. Presumed to be from a local barbershop, the all-wood, painted barber pole was found in a local resident's barn, and came to the museum by way of a donation in 1983.