Timken Museum of Art

photo: John Hazeltine

San Diego, CA




The Art of Conservation: Preserving the Past for A New Millennium

October 15, 1999 - February 15, 2000


The Art of Conservation: Preserving the Past for a New Millennium is the second in a series of "case study" exhibitions whose purpose is to introduce the public to modern conservation techniques and the key role of conservators in the preservation, education, and research of material culture. The Art of Conservation is being organized by the Timken Museum of Art in association with the Balboa Art Conservation Center, a nonprofit regional conservation center located in San Diego that serves museums and historical societies in the West. The exhibition celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Balboa Art Conservation Center, as well as the Timken's role as one of the two principal founders of BACC and is a component of "Expo 2000", the Balboa Park millennium project.

The Art of Conservation will feature nine works of art-paintings and works on paper that have undergone significant treatment at BACC. Drawn from both public and private collections in California, the proposed works include European and American paintings ranging from the Renaissance through the late 19th century, and one work of Asian origin. The loaned works have been selected not only for the type of treatment undertaken, but as an indication of the quality of art that can be found in collections in the West.

Visitors to the exhibition will experience each work of art as a specific case study in modern conservation techniques. Extensive didactic information will accompany each work. Key to this approach is photographic documentation made before, during, and after conservation treatment. Wall text will detail the conservation process: initial examination, proposed treatment, the treatment process itself, and post-treatment documentation.

While the most dramatic aspect of this presentation will be the comparative "before and after"-pre-treatment photos and the actual work of art exhibited in its post-treatment form-the exhibition has very specific goals as to educating the public about conservation.

First, The Art of Conservation will demonstrate what actually goes into treatment of a work of art-scientific analysis, aesthetic judgment, technical skill, and creative problem solving.

Second, the exhibition will delineate what might be considered the two distinct aspects of conservation: preservation techniques implemented to arrest deterioration and prevent future damage; and restoration-those activities undertaken to enhance the aesthetic quality of a work of art.

Third, the exhibition will demonstrate the role conservators play in education and research.

The Art of Conservation: Preserving the Past for a New Millennium provides a comprehensive view of the techniques and tools of modern conservation. By drawing on public collections in the West, the Museum hopes to expand public perception of the quality and type of works held in public trust and draw attention to the importance of preserving our cultural heritage.

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Located in Balboa Park.

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