Objects Conservator Ellen Chase working with a writing box, or suzuribako (F1907.105a-e) in the laboratory.

Objects Conservation oversees the care of all three-dimensional objects in the collections. These comprise a wide range of materials, including ceramics, metals, stone, glass, lacquer, and other organics. Conservators engage in the long-term preservation and maintenance of these objects through both preventive and active measures. A main focus is the condition assessment and then any necessary stabilization and treatment of three-dimensional objects in preparation for gallery rotations and outgoing loans. The conservators also undertake research and exhibition-related activities for the museum, and carry out technical examinations of objects undergoing treatment and under consideration for acquisition. Additionally, they advise gallery specialists on technical matters regarding conservation, environment, storage, display, loan, and handling of artworks.

The Objects Conservation section places an emphasis on training and professional outreach efforts. Post-graduate fellows, graduate interns, and pre-program volunteers frequently make up a part of the Objects Conservation staff, as do visiting international conservators. For further information on training opportunities, please contact dcsr@si.edu.

Projects

Hagop Kevorkian Fund Fellowship For The Conservation Of Islamic Ceramics

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery hold in trust some of the world’s finest ceramics from the Islamic world. A survey carried out from 2007–2008 by the F|S Department of Conservation and Scientific Research (DCSR) showed that several of these objects needed conservation treatment before being exhibited or published. To undertake this project, the Freer|Sackler received a generous grant from the Hagop Kevorkian Fund in support of a two-year fellowship that focuses on the treatment of ceramics. A second grant was awarded for the conservation of manuscripts and paintings from the Islamic world. Visit the Paper & Photographs Conservation for more information on the manuscript conservation fellowship. Learn more »

Korean Collection Survey

A condition survey of the three-dimensional Korean objects in the collections is being conducted to improve the overall physical state of the collection, and in preparation for an upcoming reinstallation of the Freer’s Korean gallery. Materials included in the survey are mainly ceramic and metal, as well as glass, stone, and lacquer. Objects range from beads to weapons.

Islamic Ceramic Survey And Treatment

A survey of the Islamic ceramics in the Freer and Sackler collections was conducted during 2007–2008 to determine the condition of these objects, as well as related research possibilities. The survey uncovered a variety of treatment needs, ranging from basic cleaning to extensive stabilization and restoration, which are now being carried out.

Conservation Laboratories At The National Museum Of Cambodia

The Freer and Sackler Galleries are honored to have played a role in establishing the Metal Conservation Laboratory at the National Museum of Cambodia as part of the longstanding ties between the museums. The Department of Conservation and Scientific Research led the project, which involved designing and equipping the facility and identifying a conservator, Sean Charette, who spent nineteen months training five National Museum staff members. Subsequently, one staff member, Samnang Huot, came to Washington for six months of further training; additional training will take place in the future. The Getty Foundation provided major support for this project, and additional funding came from the Global Heritage Fund, the Asian Cultural Council, the Friends of Khmer Culture (FOKCI), and the Fulbright Senior Specialists Program.

Building on the success in setting up the Metal Conservation Laboratory, further funding was secured to create a counterpart focused on ceramics. The Ceramics Conservation Laboratory opened at the National Museum in January 2009 and is staffed by Cambodian conservators trained by American conservator Bonnie Baskin. The metal and ceramics laboratories complement a stone conservation lab set up by EFEO (École française d’Extrême Orient) more than a dozen years ago. Together, the conservation facilities of the National Museum are among the most advanced in Southeast Asia.