Lunder Conservation Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Length of the internship : six months

Supervisors : Amber Kerr and Gwen Manthey

My internship abroad took place at the Lunder Conservation Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C). Those six months were dedicated to the practice of painting conservation and museum practice within the painting lab, all the while leading a research project about the Minnie Evans’ work, Airlie Oak a tridimensional painting. Many news conservation techniques were learned during this internship, such as pH and conductivity adjustment for cleaning within the Molecular Cleaning Program. The works of art treated during those months were varied, as well as the conservation treatments. The Lunder Conservation Center gave me many opportunities, such as presenting my work in front of visitors during lab tour and curators and assisting to many professional conservation meetings in DC area. The Smithsonian American Art Museum provides a dynamic cultural politic and I had the chance during those six months to assist and participate to a wide range of museum activities such as intern workshops, fellow talks, Washington Conservation Guild meetings.

Highlights

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Minnie Evans

During my six-month internship, I carried a research project on Airlie Oak, a tridimensional painting by Minnie Evans. My supervisor asked me an identification of the media that was previously identified as painted concrete and to perform an adapted conservation treatment. This artwork was the unique example of tridimensional object in the Minnie Evans work and the identification was challenging because the few information about the creation context and materials. X ray analysis and a rare interview of the artist allowed us to tell it wasn’t a painted concrete but accumulation of paint layer. I performed the historical researches and the project led to the writing of a report, treatment proposals and a conservation treatment. I performed a conservation treatment to stabilize and consolidate the fragile structure, surface cleaning and retouching.

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Sam Gilliam

During my internship, a large painting Green Web painted by Sam Gilliam from 1967 was brought to my attention. This large acrylic on canvas was covered by a thick layer of grime and stains as well as paint losses, abrasion and tears.  I performed a condition report and conservation treatment. The aim of this conservation treatment was to get precise condition report before the departure of the painting for a traveling exhibition.