Your favorite painting falls and is damaged. A print you acquired recently has water damage. A rare book from your collection is deteriorating. You are interested in a small statue but want to get its condition assessed before buying it. Becoming a discerning collector takes not only passion, but a willingness to listen, look, and learn. Consider the benefits of gathering the perspectives of a conservation professional, one who can provide insights on materials, techniques, and care – and can also help you maintain and safeguard your collection.
As a collector, you want to protect your investment, while keeping alive the spark that inspired you to include a particular artwork in your collection. Just as an art advisor can assist you in acquiring high-quality art at appropriate pricing and protect you when you are ready to sell, a conservation professional can provide advice about safe storage, exhibiting, and travel of artworks, produce written and photographic documentation and technical analysis, and undertake treatment. In the best of all worlds, the conservator you work with becomes a trusted partner.
Envision an early 20th-century American painting with a varnish applied in the 1960s. Is this varnish now obscuring the energy of the paint colors? Would the artist have applied a varnish to his artwork at all, and if so, what type of varnish? Conversations with your consulting conservator and that conservator’s research into the artist and his oeuvre, knowledge of varnishes, and treatment skills can result in an agreed-on plan of action and a revitalized painting that is true to the artist’s intent.
Conservation professionals can also help you protect and preserve your art. They can recommend appropriate lighting, levels of relative humidity, and methods of handling and display. While no one cares to dwell on damage caused by regional disasters, such as a hurricane, or a localized emergency, such as a broken water pipe, conducting a risk assessment for your collection and minimizing risk ahead of time can make a big difference in preventing unexpected damage and loss later.
For all these needs, finding the right conservator for you and your collection is the key, and this is one way that the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC) can be of service. From caring for art, to protecting it from disasters, to expanding our knowledge of cultural heritage, AIC and its Foundation are here to assist. What questions can we answer for you? Are there particular topics you’d like to learn more about? With our shared love of art, we are eager to hear from you.
Contact Eryl Wentworth, AIC and FAIC Executive Director, or visit AIC’s website which provides information about the conservation profession, advice about working with a conservator, and the Find a Conservator tool.