Conservation at the IMA

The Museum’s conservation staff conserves, maintains, preserves, and researches the Museum’s collection, adhering to national and international codes of ethics and care.

Conservators and conservation scientists are professionals with advanced training in art history, science, studio art, and related fields with exceptional expertise in their area of specialization.

  • Preventative conservation strives to prevent deterioration by controlling and monitoring the environment that works of art are exposed to, such as exposure to light and ultraviolet radiation, maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels, and by establishing standards for exhibition, storage, handling, and transport.
  • Remedial conservation stabilizes and/or repairs deterioration that has taken place with safe, reversible treatment methods and materials. The object is thoroughly examined and all phases of examination and treatment are documented with written reports and photographs.
  • Conservation science conducts scientific analysis and testing to address questions about material composition, artists’ techniques, deterioration mechanisms, age and/or authenticity and conducts research and testing towards advances in conservation materials and/or techniques. Technical Art History is a term sometimes used to describe the blended knowledge and skills of the curator/art historian, conservator, and conservation scientist in interdisciplinary and collaborative study and research.
  • Training the conservation staff trains students for entry into graduate level formal programs in art conservation and accepts interns from the training programs as part of their degree requirements. The IMA Conservation Department has an established history of training and mentoring emerging conservation professionals and it remains committed to continuing this tradition.
  • Specialized documentation for preservation of works by living artists; especially installation or site-sensitive artwork, electronic or media-based art, conceptual art, ephemeral art, or art made with unsustainable materials is a new area of conservation expertise.

The IMA Conservation Department is staffed by conservators with specializations in paintings, works on paper, textiles & fashion, and objects & variable art, as well as conservation technicians, a part-time photographer/imaging specialist, and an administrative assistant in a 7,700-square-foot laboratory housed in the museum’s main building.

A 2,000 square foot state-of-the-art conservation science laboratory opened in 2010 and complements the existing paintings, paper, objects and textiles conservation laboratories. The science lab and specialty treatment labs will work in tandem to support the understanding and preservation of the Museum’s permanent collections.

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