The Works of Art on Paper Department maintains the historical integrity of the piece, while addressing concerns of long-term storage, display, and preservation with established methods in the field of paper conservation.


The Center's paper conservators encounter a variety of works, such as historical documents, drawings and prints, and screens, to pastels, watercolors, blueprints, and scrolls. The conservators treat each piece individually based upon information gathered during examination and testing.

The Paper Department’s approach is dependent upon a wide range of inherent properties in each sheet.  The age, type of paper, media, scale, and previous campaigns of conservation are just a few considerations for each treatment approach. Many of these properties are easily affected by a variety of environmental, housing, and age-related factors.

Our conservators offer options for the treatment and preservation of your piece, along with advice on proper handling, storage, and care. Each work is treated with established methods and materials used throughout the field of paper conservation. For more complex treatments, conservators maintain an ongoing dialogue with clients.

Magical Methods: Water Washing

treatment gallery

Portrait of a Woman in Gown. Pastel on paper. Water staining and age related conditions, i.e. embrittled paper.

before after

Marriage certificate. Engraving with iron gall ink on paper. Age related issues.

before after

Ketubah. Engraving with fountain pen ink on paper. Age related and handling issues.

before after

Portrait of Woman in Red. Tempera on silk mounted on paper. Water staining and mold damage.

before after

stories related to paper conservation:

video: examining a 10th century codex

When a 10th century Codex arrived at The Conservation Center for treatment earlier this year, we were all intrigued by the craftsmanship of this rare volume. This surviving example of a medieval Christian text contains the Gospels of Luke and John. Apparently these 37 leaves of vellum were found in an attic of an old house in Constantinople—now Istanbul, Turkey—many years ago. Before treating this book, we had to properly examine every page and determine the best conservation method. So why not produce a stop-motion video that showcases the Codex, cover to cover?



Many of us have things passed down from our family, maybe stuffed in boxes in the attic or basement, that are treasures to us. These treasures, though maybe not valuable in the eyes of the public (or art market), are priceless to us. “Everybody thinks their Great Aunt Margaret was a great artist,” said one of our clients. Yet sometimes, as that same client found out, it turns out to be true.



Amadeo Modigliani was an Italian painter who lived and worked during La Belle Époque. Like many other artists during this period, he resided in Paris where he created some of his most famous sculptures, drawings, and paintings. Although Modigliani was prolific and created hundreds of pieces, he was destitute for most of his tragically short life. The artist is well-known for his portraits, which depict faces influenced by the Baule masks and figures from the Ivory Coast. His distinctive style is characterized by long necks and faces, and by his signature small, hazy eyes. We recently encountered one of his drawings in need of minor treatment and cleaning.


In correlation with the exhibition, we wanted to share our recent treatment of a 1965 Charles White lithograph that came to us from a private client who had concerns about framing damage. The lithograph on paper, titled “Juba”, had been passed down to our client Stacy Robinson by her father Louie Robinson, who was a journalist, one of the founders of Ebony Magazine, and a friend of Charles White. "My father's work put him in close contact with many prominent Black actors, sports figures, and influencers of the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s," Stacy shared with us.