T

he current circumstances of the world only permitted a virtual tour of the MoMA and conservation studios, but Kate Lewis, Agnes Gund Chief Conservator of the Museum of Modern Art, was adamant in developing a deep understanding of conservation and restoration among us 

students. Through images depicting the different materials used to restore all types of artworks did the meticulous task of conservation become evident. The very slow moving process is established from years of experience. Plans must be constructed before action is taken on the treatment plan. During installation and destination is the riskiest time for a work of art. The restoration materials used must differ from the artist’s materials used to create the work.

“everything we do is documented and in theory is reversible, adverse effects are very difficult to reverse”

From medical grade professional tools, lots of analysis, research, and observation conserving any modern artwork is tasking. Curators for each discipline: architecture & design, photography, drawings & prints, painting & sculpture, film, media & performance, preform evaluation on works currently owned by the MoMA as well as suspected inquires.

Kate Lewis has worked with curators worked for 20 years. The eye of the curator is one of accumulation as an individual’s practice grows. Their eye peers at all sides, starting macro and then moves into the micro. The ability to notice dust and to contemplate if a flaw is from aging or an inherent desire by the artist or a chemical mistake done poorly by the conservator is seen by the eye of Lewis and fellow conservators within the art world. Lewis questions mounting techniques, and confesses to judging the technical presentation rather than really enjoying the artwork as most curators observe as well as.

The MoMA acquires a couple of 100 works a year in all departments that must be reviewed before coming into the galleries. Condition is analyzing before acquiring a work.

“If the damage is deemed to extensive the work will not be purchased, even if it is a Picasso.”

Well-kept registers, storage, and handling teams are the key to keeping works in their best condition, but dust is the biggest issue. Technical analysis and preventive conservation has become more important. With the highest quality HVHC machines and advance filtration of moving air the classic cleaning crew is still needed to dust and clean the floor each day. Curators come out of the labs at night to dust, vacuuming, brush, and insect trap the galleries pieces. No much how much cleaning they do the MoMA still must do everything to control the climate of the museum measuring temperature in live data.

The ability to touch these artworks, in gloves of course, is what drew Kate Lewis to this profession. Lewis has an eye on maintaining these works for future people to still be able to see. Lewis works hard to record and save interviews with alive artist as a testament to future conservators. These interviews will be used as research materials when analyzing how artists talk about their works over time. By preserving artist memory it will preserve how to authentically display what the artists desired. The use of technology has change drastically in her life and has taught Lewis to leave somethings unfinished and unrestored for the future generations and their technological advancement to correct those mistakes.

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