List of dates in the history of art conservation

List of dates in the history of art conservation

This page details the historic development of Art conservation in Europe and the United States.

Important Dates in the History of Art conservation

Some key dates in the history of conservation in Europe and the United States include:

1565 Restoration of the Sistine Chapel frescoes began [53 years after the ceilings were painted] .

1603 Quote from Rubens, “I have entirely restored this altar at my own expense and with my own hands.”

1729 First recorded transfer, Domenico Michelini, Rome; the profession of restoration becomes more visible in the following years. In the 18th century, painting restoration became a separate profession in France.

1777, 1785 Pietro Edwards, Director of the Restoration of the Public Pictures of Venice and the Rialto, published on basic concepts of preventive conservation, original vices of painters’ materials, respect for the artist’s original intent, and reversibility.

1794 Charles Willson Peale recorded in his memo book using wax to impregnate paintings. By the middle of the 19th century, paintings were being wax lined; Rembrandt’s Night Watch was wax- lined in 1851. [Note precedent above with glue; first there was impregnation with an adhesive and some years later, lining. Analogous to the 20th-century use of PVA/EVA etc.]

1809 Count Chaptal of Napoleon’s court filed a report regarding pigments used in Pompeii. [Technical analysis of artists’ materials appears and increases in the 19th century.]

1815 Pigment studies by Sir Humphrey Davy (he had a small portable chemical laboratory and traveled around Europe, accompanied by Michael Faraday 1813-1815)

1840s Collapsible paint tubes are now available for artists.

1851 Rembrandt’s Night Watch is relined with a wax adhesive.

1852 The cleaning by John Seguier of nine major pictures in the National Gallery, London led to a fierce public outcry and demand for an inquiry. Cleaning controversies followed in London, Paris, Munich, (in the US by 1978, and about the Sistine Chapel by 1985). (Cleaning controversies had also erupted re. policies at the Louvre in 1793.)

1850-1853 Michael Faraday carried out analytical and deterioration studies for the National Gallery, London, investigated varnishes, cleaning methods and the impact of London fog, coal smoke, and gas lighting on the discoloration of surface coatings. His findings were generally ignored.

1863 Dr. Max Pettenkofer of Munich patented a method to “reverse the aging of varnish” through exposure to ethanol vapors; this method was later found to increase the interactive zone between paintings and varnish, complicating future cleanings [Ref. Sibylle Schmitt, IIC 1990] .

1870s Louis Pasteur carried out analytical studies of paint and optical crystallography for over a decade.

1888 Friedrich Rathgen became chemist in charge of the Royal Museums of Berlin (Staatliche Museen), first museum laboratory

1896 W. C. Roentgen discovered x-rays in 1895 and x-rayed a painting the next year. He called them “X rays” because their nature was at first unknown.

1920 British Museum Research Laboratory established under the direction of Alexander Scott as a direct response to the poor state of the museum’s collections.

1928 Fogg Art Museum’s Technical Department established by the museum’s Director, Edward W. Forbes; this was the first research laboratory in an American museum. His allies for technical studies of paintings were Daniel V. Thompson and Alan Burroughs. George L. Stout became Head Conservator and Rutherford John Gettens, the department’s chemist

1928 Questionnaire initiated by the German museum council in 1928 on how much to clean, how much to inpaint [Berlin was a leading international art center at this time] . German activities at an international level ended when the National Socialists assumed power in 1933; art experts who emigrated (e.g. Max J. Friedländer, Ernst Gombrich,Julius Held, Johannes Hell, Helmut Ruhemann, William Suhr, etc.) influenced attitudes in U.K. and U.S.

1930 The first “International Conference for the Study of Scientific Methods for the Examination and Preservation of Works of Art” held in Rome, 13-17, October. Impact on: the founding of IIC, ICOM-CC, many training programs, ethics, standards of practice, documentation, preventive conservation, etc. etc.

1930 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, laboratory established.

1931 Louvre Museum Laboratory established.

1931 James J. Rorimer of the Metropolitan Museum published Ultra-violet Rays and Their Use in the Examination of Works of Art.

1930 The first International “Conference for the Study of Scientific Methods for the Examination and Preservation of Works of Art,” Rome. This group decided to edit a “Manual on the Conservation of Paintings” first published in French in 1939, a remarkable international collaborative effort. Re-issued by Archetype, 1997, copyright ICOM.

1931 Conservation department established at the Walters Art Gallery [now “Museum”] under David Rosen, and chemist Arthur Kopp established a laboratory at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1932-1942 Publication of Technical Studies in the Field of the Fine Arts, published for the Fogg Museum of Art, first technical journal.

1934 Conservation training program began at the Courtauld Institute in London.

1934 First translated publication of Max Doerner’s The Materials of the Artist and their Use in Paintings. Professor Doerner (1870-1939) was instructor/professor in technical methods at the Royal Bavarian Academy in Munich 1911-1939.

1936 Conservation training program began at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna.

1937 Founding of the State Institute for Technical Tests and Research in the Field of Painting, called the “Doerner Institute.” This Institute also began a training program the next year.

1938 Alan Burroughs of the Fogg Art Museum published Art Criticism from a Laboratory, based on his research x-radiographing Old Master paintings.

1940 Manual on the Conservation of Paintings (from the 1930 Rome Conference) published in French in 1939 and in English in 1940. Compiled by 12 international experts: five art historians, five restorers, & two chemists.

1943 Conservation training program at the Istituto Centrale in Rome

1946 The International Council of Museums was organized at a meeting held in November at the Louvre. A non-governmental organization composed of National Committees in the various member nations with the purpose of furthering international cooperation among museums. The Committee for Conservation (now known as ICOM-CC) began in 1967. Triennial meetings began in 1969.

1947 Trial of H. A. van Meegeren, convicted of forging paintings by Vermeer. The discussions among Paul Coremans, Harold Plenderleith, and F. I. G. Rawlins in connection with this trial were credited by Hero Boothroyd Brooks as important to the establishment of the IIC.

1947 Exhibition of cleaned paintings at the National Gallery, London. Controversy and inquiry resulted in the Weaver Report, 1948. (Committee: Paul Coremans, G. L. Stout, Dr. J. R. H. Weaver, President of Trinity College, Oxford.)

1948 Institute Royale du Patrimoine Artistique founded, Brussels; dedicated to the study and conservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the country. As a federal scientific institution, the Institute's primary mission is research and public service.

1948 Use of hot table reported, Stephen Rees Jones, Courtauld Institute.

1948 The Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique (IRPA) is founded in Brussels, Paul Coremans, Director

1948 The “Brussels Preparatory Meeting” is held to plan the founding of the IIC.

1949 Conservation training program at the Institut für Technologie der Malerei in Stuttgart.

1950 IIC, originally known as the “International Institute for the Conservation of Museum Objects,” was incorporated on 27 April 1950. A short history of the “International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works” by Hero Boothroyd Brooks was published on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 2000. Now 2389 members. [308 Fellows, 1533 individuals, 160 students, 388 institutions July 2007]

1952 First issue of Studies in Conservation, from IIC.

1952 First regional center in the US opened, the Oberlin Intermuseum Conservation Association, now located in Cleveland.

1955 First issue of IIC Abstracts. This became Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts in 1966 when it was published from the NYU, Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center, (JHS was Managing Editor from 1969 to 1986). The administration of AATA moved from the NYU Conservation Center to the Getty Conservation Institute in 1985 and the publication went entirely online in 2003

1955 Introduction of vacuum pressure for the hot table, R. E. Straub, S. Rees Jones, Studies in Conservation, Vol. II.

1959 The Rome Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property began operation. Dr. Harold J. Plenderleith, Director. (Known as ICCROM since 1978. .) Now has over 100 member nations. Publications, guidelines, and international training programs.

1960 First regular meeting of the IIC-American Group, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Now known as the American Institute for Conservation with more than 3300 members (as of 06).

1960 First four students began graduate training in conservation at the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (First graduate art conservation training program in the U.S.) Four- year program, moved across the street to 14 East 78th Street, NYC in 1983.

1963 Establishment of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory at the Smithsonian Institution. Moved in 1983 to the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland. In 1998, renamed SCMRE, the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education. In 2006, re-named MCI, Museum Conservation Institute,

1965 National Endowment for the Arts founded. The Museum Program began in 1971 and awarded about $11 million to help start Regional Conservation Centers under John Spencer.

1966 November, Florence Flood; brought international awareness to issues of art conservation. The gathering of international conservation professionals together over the next several years stimulated collaboration and the founding of a number of European conservation training programs.

1967 The beginning of the ICOM-Committee for Conservation, first triennial meeting held in 1969.

1968 Publication of the first code of ethics and standards of practice for conservation internationally (“The Murray Pease Report”) by the IIC-American Group

1969 Publication of America’s Museums: The Belmont Report, AAM; the need for conservation of collections recognized, government support for conservation considered indispensable. Additional reports have followed from the IIC-AG in 1975, National Institute for Conservation, now known as Heritage Preservation, etc.

1969 First painting lined with BEVA 371 (by Gustav Berger). Gerry Hedley later reported the results of a survey in the mid-1980s that BEVA became the most popular lining adhesive internationally.

1970 First students began training in the three-year graduate program in conservation, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown. NY; takes ten students a year, three-year program, moved to Buffalo State College in 1987.

1970s There were three other full-time, three-year conservation training programs, at the Fogg Art Museum, the Oberlin Intermuseum Conservation Association in Ohio, and the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa; all three ceased providing three-year programs by the end of the decade, but all continue to accept advanced interns.

1973 IIC-AG changed to the AIC and began the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, its non-profit 501(c)(3) sister organization, and the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation.

1973 The National Conservation Advisory Council was organized in 1973, funded by the National Museum Act of the Smithsonian Institution. The NCAC surveyed national needs and became the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property in 1982, and changed its name again to Heritage Preservation in 1997. Ca. 150 institutional members as of 2004-06.

1974 First students began training in the three-year graduate program in conservation sponsored jointly by the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum

1974 First students began training in the two-year graduate program in conservation at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

1974 Rutherford John Gettens died a week after making a presentation about the need for a conservation history project. FAIC oral history project launched in 1975. Over 165 transcribed interviews now available to researchers housed in the Winterthur Museum archives.

1974, 1975, 1976 “Moratoria” on lining declared at conferences at Greenwich, UK; Venice (ICOM-CC 1975), and Ottawa (sponsored by the National Gallery, Canada). Lining practices were re- examined and the regular lining of paintings as a preventive measure by practicing professional conservators decreased steadily. (NOTE: this occurred ca. two decades after the introduction of vacuum lining.) A philosophy of “minimal intervention” gained increasing numbers of supporters in all specialties over the next three decades.

1976 Research Center on the Materials of the Artist and Conservator at Carnegie Mellon University established, Dr. Robert L. Feller, Director. Now “Art Conservation Research Center”

1978 ICOM-CC created the first working paper on the draft definition of the conservator- restorer.

1981 The Conservation Education Program at Columbia University accepted students for training in library and archives conservation. This Program moved to the University of Texas in 1992.

1982 Major branches of the J. Paul Getty Trust were first defined.

1982 Interdisciplinary publications reflecting George L. Stout’s concept of the “three-legged stool,” co-authored by conservators, art historians, and scientists appear and increase in number: Art and Autoradiography (Metropolitan Museum, 1982); Examining Velasquez (Gridley McKim-Smith, Greta Andersen-Bergdoll, and Richard Newman, 1988).

1982 CAL, the “Conservation Analytical Laboratory” of the Smithsonian Institution, moved to Silver Hill, Maryland. A three-year program for furniture conservation was sponsored there for a limited period of time; a new class was accepted only every three years, and classes were scheduled so that professional furniture conservators could participate in segments but keep their practices. Later the name was changed to SCMRE and in 2005 to “MCI,” Museum Conservation Institute.

1984 First meeting of the Association of Graduate Training Programs in Conservation, in conjunction with the annual student conference, Harvard University faculty club; now known as ANAGPIC, Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation.

1984-1985 New methods of cleaning introduced by Professor Richard Wolbers, University of Delaware, including enzymes, resin soaps, and gels.

1985 Getty Conservation Institute began operations in Marina del Rey, CA; in 1997 moved to the Getty Center in Brentwood.

1990 First students accepted in the Ph.D. Program in Art Conservation Research; six students graduated by 2003 at the University of Delaware. This program was not granted permanent status. A new Ph.D. program in Preservation Studies at the UD accepted its first students in 2006.

1990 NAGPRA, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

1990 The CAA/Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation was initiated for an outstanding contribution by one or more persons who, individual or jointly, have enhanced understanding of art through the application of knowledge and experience in conservation, art history, and art. Winners of this award include Robert L. Feller (92), Molly Ann Fairies (95), W. Thomas Chase, (98), Harry Cooper and Ron Spronk (02), Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson (03), Carol Mancusi-Ungaro (04), Paolo Cherchi Usai (film preservation) (05); Don Kalec and Jim Thorpe (architectural conservation) (06).

1991 E.C.C.O. (European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers' Organisations) was created. The ECCO code of ethics was adopted in 1993.

1995 National Endowment for the Arts ceased funding training in art conservation.

1997 RAP, Regional Alliance for Preservation (RAP) began in February 1997 as a pilot project of the Commission on Preservation and Access (Washington, DC) to foster cooperation among the Preservation Field Service programs funded by the NEH. When pilot-project funding ended in February 1998, participants decided to continue RAP as a cooperative program; the alliance expanded to include members of the Association of Regional Conservation Centers (ARCC). There are now 13 members.

1999 The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) was established, and by 2008 the network included 150 partner institutions, the majority located in Europe and the United States. Members of INCCA use as their communication platform.

2000 New funding for conservation science positions in graduate training programs and major museum conservation laboratories, initiated by Angelica Rudenstine and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

2005 The graduate training program in archaeological conservation sponsored jointly by UCLA and the Getty Conservation Institute accepted its first class of students.

2006 The new Preservation Studies Doctoral Program at the University of Delaware accepted its first three students.

2006 The launch of AMIEN, Art Materials Information and Education Network, jointly sponsored by Mark Gottsegen and The ICA, Cleveland (joining INCCA, the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art, as a resource on the conservation of contemporary art).

(This list was compiled by Joyce Hill Stoner).

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