Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico is the perfect exhibition to show the range of artworks an objects conservator can work on. The pyramid from Complex C at the Olmec site of La Venta is first object represented in this exhibition that I helped conserve. At the beginning of the exhibition you will see a large color photograph of this pyramid showing the result of the conservation treatment.
The objects conservation lab is busy doing their part for the installation of Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico. So what exactly is a conservator’s role when dealing with huge, monolithic objects?
Even in a museum environment, objects can become dusty and it is the responsibility of the objects conservation department to dust each artwork. We sometimes dust artworks when visitors are in the galleries and we have noticed that many people are curious about what we are doing. Here is a brief selection of the most common questions about dusting artworks and our responses:
Assistant Conservator Alisa Eagleston dusting the suspended Ruth Asawa sculptures.
Viola Frey’s monumental sculpture, Man Observing Series II, is back from its travels! This is a larger than life sized sculpture made of 13 heavy sections of glazed earthenware ceramics. Teamwork by staff at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco returned the sculpture to its original home in the Saxe Gallery at the de Young.
Amazing art comes through the photo studio on a regular basis.
We tend to save Mondays (when we’re closed to the public) to photograph artworks that are normally installed in the galleries. This way we can take the objects out of the galleries and into the photo studio without impacting the public.
Recently we shot two recent acquisitions from the AOA department. The images will appear in the next edition of the museums' Fine Arts magazine.
The Fine Arts Museums’ annual floral extravaganza, Bouquets to Art, takes place in March every year. It’s FAMSF’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s extremely popular with museumgoers. It can be especially challenging to the FAMSF conservation staff, however, given the potential to admit insects and pests to the museum. This photo essay chronicles the conservation staff (a.k.a. The Conservation Patrol) at Bouquets to Art 2009.
Bouquet in front of Stela with Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw.