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Oberlin’s Chemistry-Week Celebration to Feature “Art Conservation: Where Science and Art Meet”


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Find out more about art conservation on a web site maintained by Oberlin-area residents and art conservators Robert and Gina McKay Lodge and on another web site maintained by the Intermuseum Conservation Association, housed in the Oberlin College Allen Art Building.

NOVEMBER 1, 2000--Bruce Christman, a conservator for the Cleveland Museum of Art, will present "Art Conservation: Where Science and Art Meet" for the chemistry department's Seminars in Chemistry series next week. The November 8 talk, celebrating National Chemistry Week, will be at 8:00 P.M. in Kettering 9. The department is hosting a reception (with refreshments) for the speaker at 7:45 in the Kettering Lounge.

Art conservation as it is practiced at the Cleveland Museum of Art falls into three broad categories, says Christman: preservation, treatment, and technical studies.

"Preserving works requires a variety of skills and knowledge in such areas as the studio arts, history of technology, art history, and the sciences," he says. "In treating works of art the conservator must understand the nature of the materials used by the artist and be able to properly identify these materials."

The conservator must also understand the chemical and physical properties of the materials that are to be used on the work of art or in contact with it so that no harm is done to the artwork. When the work of art is deteriorating, the conservator must make a proper diagnosis of the problem in order to correct the problem and prolong the life of the object.

During the art-acquisition process the conservator undertakes a technical examination of the proposed purchase to determine its condition and authenticity based on analyses of the materials and construction of the work.

"The conservation staff at the Cleveland Museum of Art uses a broad range of analytical techniques to understand the works of art," Christman says. His lecture will explore the way in which the sciences are used to understand and preserve the works of art entrusted to the museum.





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