29 episodes

Smithsonian American Art Museum conservation videos. Image: Conservator Amber Kerr in the Lunder Conservation Center.

Conservation Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Smithsonian American Art Museum conservation videos. Image: Conservator Amber Kerr in the Lunder Conservation Center.

    • video
    The Lunder Conservation Center

    The Lunder Conservation Center

    At the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Lunder Conservation Center, visitors have the unique opportunity to see conservators at work in five different laboratories and studios. The Center features floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow the public to view all aspects of conservation work--work that is traditionally done behind the scenes at other museums and conservation centers.

    • 3 min
    • video
    Conservation of William H. Johnson Paintings

    Conservation of William H. Johnson Paintings

    Before treatment begins, paintings come to our lab for examination and documentation. If physical deterioration or damage has occurred on any one of the complex layers of a painting, the structural part of a conservation treatment is done here. Conservators try to intervene as little as possible but serious damage does need to be treated so that the artist's work is not lost. In this lab, conservators carefully work to mend tears, secure flaking paint, relax buckling canvas, rejoin cracks, and remove unstable materials.

    • 2 min
    • video
    Conserving a George Catlin Painting

    Conserving a George Catlin Painting

    In this studio conservators restore the surface of paintings to a condition that most closely resembles an earlier unaltered or undamaged state. The two most common procedures that take place here are cleaning and inpainting. During cleaning, conservators carefully remove layers of accumulated grime; darkened varnish; and old, discolored retouching from the surface of paintings. To restore areas of lost paint, conservators fill the areas of loss with gesso, and inpaint them to match surrounding areas of original paint. They use easily reversible materials and take great care not to cover any of the original paint that had been applied by the artist.

    • 2 min
    • video
    Conserving Art on Paper

    Conserving Art on Paper

    Here in the Paper Conservation Lab conservators examine, document and treat a wide variety of works on paper for exhibition, acquisition and collections storage. The collections include prints, drawings, watercolors, and photographic materials, all of which have their own unique physical and aesthetic characteristics.

    Typical conservation treatments and preventive measures include surface cleaning, removing harmful attachments such as pressure-sensitive tape and poor-quality matting materials, reducing discoloration and staining, flattening paper distortions, and housing artworks in chemically-stable, acid-free materials.

    • 3 min
    • video
    Conserving Three-Dimensional Objects

    Conserving Three-Dimensional Objects

    The three-dimensional objects treated in this lab are made of a variety of materials and often times a combination of materials. Conservators working here are trained and equipped to handle different types of stone, wood, metal, bone, shell, ceramic, leather, rubber, and synthetic materials. Treatments vary depending on the size, shape, and composition of the object, from the tiniest miniature locket to multi-ton sculptures.

    Like all conservators, an objects conservator's responsibilities include research, monitoring environmental conditions, and evaluating preservation concerns for objects on loan, on exhibition, and in storage.

    • 3 min
    • video
    Painting Techniques of Henry Ossawa Tanner

    Painting Techniques of Henry Ossawa Tanner

    Conservators Amber Kerr-Allison and Brian Baade present findings of their recent study and analysis of six of Tanner's works in the permanent collection, including the newly conserved Flight into Egypt. Learn how Tanner's documented painting recipe, preserved in the Archives of American Art, contributed to their understanding and analysis of this artist's technique that produced some of the most vibrant paintings at the turn of the 20th century.

    • 1 hr 10 min

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