Art meets science in the museum’s conservation labs. Here you will find conservators with specializations ranging from paintings to sculpture, antiquities to contemporary art, and medieval manuscripts to tapestries to Asian folding screens.
These individuals have academic backgrounds that include art history, studio art, and chemistry as well as advanced education and training in the conservation of art and historic collections. Their mission is to study, preserve, and conserve the works of art in Cleveland’s collection and the works of art traveling here from other museums and collectors around the world.
Using simple hand tools and microscopes as well as high-tech tools such as X-radiography and infrared reflectography, these conservators work with patience and precision to examine artwork and perform a wide range of conservation treatments. Walking through the conservation suite on any given day, you may find a conservator closely examining a unique 15th-century engraving, carefully mounting a 6th-century Egyptian Coptic textile for display, working on an Impressionist’s masterpiece to bring it as close as possible to its original state and artist’s intent, or preparing a fragile porcelain vase to travel within the building or across the world without harm from movement or environmental changes.
Today, as part of the museum’s renovation and expansion project, the conservation department works in a recently opened 18,000-square-foot suite of state-of-the-art laboratories. It is one of the finest spaces in the country for analysis, study, and conservation of museum collections.