Lunder Conservation Center
Comments Tools Resources Archive About Calendar Visit
Frames Studio

Weekly Lunder Conservation Center Tour
Wednesdays, 3 p.m.

Learn how museum conservators use science, art history, and skilled hands to preserve objects from our collections in the Lunder Conservation Center. Group size is limited. Program repeats weekly.
Meet at the Luce Foundation Center Information Desk, Third-floor Mezzanine

Upcoming Professional Programs

Conservation of Our Collection
Wednesday, June 29, 4-5 p.m.

Join Objects Conservator Jamie Gleeson for a lecture on the recent conservation of Duane Hanson’s Woman Eating.
McEvoy Auditorium

Conservation of Our Collection: Romaine Brooks
Tuesday, June 21, 4 p.m.
Monday, August 15, 12 p.m.

Join Chief of Conservation, Tiarna Doherty for a gallery talk highlighting the materials and techniques used by Romaine Brooks in her paintings and paintings conservators work to preserve their intended effects.
Meet in G Street Lobby

The Modular Cleaning Program with added material on cleaning water-sensitive surfaces
September 20-23, 2016
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Instructor: Chris Stavroudis, conservator in private practice, West Hollywood, CA
Assistant: Nina Roth-Wells, conservator in private practice, Georgetown, ME

The Modular Cleaning Program is a systematic approach to cleaning works of art utilizing water-borne systems, solvents, solvent gels and emulsions. This four-day workshop will focus on how the Modular Cleaning Program can help formulate a series of concentrated aqueous stock solutions and the materials to mix a range of emulsions and microemulsions. While solvent theory and solvent gels will be discussed, solvent gels will not be prepared in the workshop. The provided database, "The Modular Cleaning Program," assists the conservator in formulating and combining stock solutions which allows the conservator to create optimized cleaning solutions for more precise and tailored treatments. The workshop consists of approximately 2 days of lecture interspersed into the hands-on workshop.

Program Announcement (pdf)

Registration fee = $400.00
Financial assistance may be available

Please send a statement of interest and resume/CV with your name, current contact information, and institutional affiliation (if any) to with the subject line "Modular Cleaning Program Application" by July 18, 2016. Participants will be notified of selection by July 26, 2016.

    Past Programs

    Conservation in Focus: Martin Puryear
    Friday May 3, 4 p.m.
    Friday June 10, 4 p.m.

    Join Objects Conservator, Helen Ingalls for a gallery talk highlighting the materials and techniques used by Martin Puryear and how conservators work to preserve his works’ intended effects.

    Ice Cold: Solid Carbon Dioxide Cleaning Symposium
    Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery
    McEvoy Auditorium | 8th and G Streets NW | Washington DC, 20001
    September 10, 2015

    This full day program provided an opportunity for conservators and collection care specialists to explore the technology, applications, and benefits of solid carbon dioxide snow cleaning for collection treatment and preservation.
    Solid carbon dioxide cleaning (snow to pellet) has been tested and used in critical cleaning capacities, such as the removal of surface contamination during the production of silicon microchip wafers and precision optical lenses. Significant advances in CO2 technology and its employment have produced valuable results for the field of conservation, specifically for objects with sensitive surfaces.
    On Thursday, September 10, the Lunder Conservation Center presented a symposium in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s McEvoy Auditorium. Talks focused on the discussion of past case studies, current considerations, and future possibilities in the use of solid CO2 cleaning for collection care.
    Program Schedule (PDF)
    Video available online

    Conservation and Exhibition Planning: Material Testing for Design, Display, and Packing Conference
    Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery
    McEvoy Auditorium | 8th and G Streets NW | Washington DC, 20001
    November 19 – 20, 2015

    This two-day conference provided an opportunity for exhibition designers, mount makers, registrars, collection managers, conservators, and scientists to explore the challenges of how materials are selected for use with art objects.

    The planning for appropriate collection care before, during, and after display is dependent on accessing reliable information about the materials we use. The production of fabrics, painted surfaces, mounts, foams, and board materials facilitate the creative display of art objects. Understanding how these materials will react with artworks over time is a fundamentally challenging, but necessary, undertaking.

    This conference explored practical considerations that facilitate and benefit collection care in museum exhibition workflows, and how they impact staff across departments. Presentations focused on designing exhibitions and fabricating display furniture; strategic approaches to collection care during the exhibition implementation process; designing storage environments; conservation work spaces; interpretation and sharing of analytical results from Oddy testing and alternatives to the Oddy test; and monitoring how materials change over time.

    To register please visit the education tab of the American Institute for Conservation's website.
    Additional information and registration guidelines are listed under the current courses section.

    Program Schedule & Abstracts
    Video available online

    Conservation of our Collection: Measured Perfection: Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave
    Tuesday, November 17, noon

    Join our conservation team for a gallery talk highlighting the extensive research conducted into Powers’ materials in anticipation of their exhibition and the techniques used to treat the variety of artworks on view.

    Conserving and Curating Media Art
    Video available online
    June 3, 2015
    Objects Conservator L.H. (Hugh) Shockey, Jr., and Curator of Film and Media Arts Michael Mansfield discuss the challenges and triumphs of conserving and exhibiting media arts in the twenty-first century.

    Conservation of our Collection: Mingering Mike's Supersonic Greatest Hits
    Tuesday, July 7, 2015
    Join Catherine Maynor, our art on paper conservator, for a gallery talk that features an inside look into the techniques used to treat and preserve the artist's LP albums, original album art, liner notes, 45 rpm singles, and more pertaining to the artist's youthful fantasy of being a famous soul singer/songwriter.

    Caring for Public Art: A 21st Century Approach
    A Special Lecture with Richard McCoy

    Thursday, September 11, 2014 6:00 PM in the McEvoy Auditorium
    Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

    Experiencing and understanding public art in America may be the best way to learn what makes your community different than any other, and helping to document it is one of the best ways you can do to insure that it will be around for future generations. McCoy will talk about his innovative methods for engaging broad publics in documenting and caring for public art using 21st century technologies and methods.

    April 7 – 9, 2014
    Aluminum: History, Technology, and Conservation!
    A three day international conference
    Smithsonian American Art Museum, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and G Streets, NW, Washington, DC

    This three day conference brought together international specialists to facilitate the exchange and dissemination of knowledge, experiences, and expertise in the deterioration and conservation of aluminum alloys. The preservation of objects made from aluminum alloys is an issue of high priority in the materials conservation field. Artifacts as diverse as domestic objects, modern sculpture, scientific and technological objects, outdoor architectural structures, airplanes and spacecraft, constructed in whole or in part from this material, can suffer severe deterioration. Little technical information is readily available to the conservation community about how to effectively conserve these artifacts. The recent invention of many of these alloys and their ever-increasing prevalence in museum collections adds to the severity of the problem.

    Download the program announcement (PDF)

    Monday, March 3, 2014
    Seeing Through Paintings: An Insider's View
    McEvoy Auditorium, Lower Level

    Authors and painting conservators, Andrea Kirsh and Rustin Levenson, presented a lecture on the study of paintings as physical objects. The authors showed how the physical attributes of an artwork can illuminate important critical, historical, and social issues. Our speakers focused on their award-winning book, Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examinations in Art Historical Studies.

    February 20 and 21, 2014
    The Non-Invasive Analysis of Painted Surfaces: Scientific Impact and Conservation Practice
    A two-day international symposium
    Smithsonian American Art Museum, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and G Streets, NW, Washington, DC

    Presented in partnership with the Lunder Conservation Center, ICOM-CC Paintings Working Group, ICOM-CC Scientific Research Working Group, and FAIC.

    This two-day event focused on recent advances in technology and instrumentation for the analysis of painted surfaces.

    While non-destructive and micro-destructive analytical methods are often essential for the study and understanding of paintings, recent developments in portable and non-invasive instrumentation have led to growing interest in the applicability of techniques to the study of paintings. Further, as new instrumentation becomes commercially available and more affordable, conservators and scientists are able to use non-invasive techniques for monitoring and analysis in new ways.

    A particular focus of the conference was the interpretation of analytical results from portable instrumentation including colorimetry, imaging and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The format of the conference included papers and panel discussions.

    View the archived presentations on YouTube

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014
    Caring for Your Collection: Contemporary Photography
    McEvoy Auditorium, Lower Level

    Sylvie Penichon, photograph conservator and author, presented a lecture for collectors of contemporary photographs and photographers. Technical information and tips for what to look for when acquiring artworks and preserving your collection were discussed.

    June 26, 2013
    Conserving and Exhibiting the Works of Nam June Paik

    This all-day symposium examined the conservation and restoration of works by Nam June Paik. Talks will focused on the exhibition, "Nam June Paik: Global Visionary." Presenters discussed their experiences with conserving and exhibiting Paik's works in a series of lectures and panel discussions. Specific artworks were addressed in relation to broader issues of time-based media art conservation.

    Download the program announcement (PDF)

    May 1, 2013
    Updates from the Getty Conservation Institute project Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces

    This evening lecture is open to all museum professionals with an interest in acrylic painted surfaces. Presentations will provide a brief summary of the research and latest developments in the study and treatment of acrylic painted surfaces. Speakers include Tom Learner, Senior Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute; Bronwyn Ormsby, Senior Conservation Scientist, Tate; Richard Wolbers, Professor at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and Chris Stavroudis, Conservator in Private Practice.

    Download the program announcement (PDF)

    March 1, 2013
    Gallery Illumination: LED Lighting in Today's Museums

    The Lunder Conservation Center held a one day symposium on March 1, 2013 on the use of LED lighting in museum collections. The symposium included a series of presentations from museum and lighting specialists.

    Download the program announcement (PDF)

    View the schedule (PDF)

    Download the summary report from the AIC committee (PDF)

    View the archived presentations on YouTube

      Other Conservation Resources

      Want to learn more about art conservation? Visit these links to get information about other conservation departments and training programs, or leisurely explore the many resources this field has to offer.


      Educational Programs

      Additional Resources

      Sardines (detail), 1955, Michael Goldberg, Oil and adhesive tape on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection, 1981.109.9

      Smithsonian American Art Museum | National Portrait Gallery | Luce Foundation Center |
      Site Map | Privacy
      Smithsonian American Art Museum