Have you ever looked at old (sometimes really old) paintings or objects in museums, institutions, or personal collections and wondered how they can still look so good after so many years? Chances are, the object may have been touched up or repaired over the years. Particularly if the object has had a rocky past, i.e., normal wear and tear, accidental damages, or major disasters like fires and flooding. These tribulations can all cause minor or significant damage to precious items. Thankfully, there are establishments like The Chicago Conservation Center to help put the pieces back together again.
The Center has been in operation here in Chicago since 1983, and continues to expand its services to the public, offering the conservation of works on paper, photography, textiles, murals, and is now also offering services for furniture, frames and decorative objects. They also offer emergency disaster assistance nationwide. The Center is one of the nation’s leading private art restoration and conservation laboratories, and is the largest facility of its kind in the nation with around thirty conservators, artisans and staff.
Visiting the spacious River North facility recently, I met with Chief Executive Officer, Heather Becker, and toured the light-filled workspace where so much happens on a daily basis. Becker explained that conservation efforts for paintings, drawings, smaller objects, etc. take place in the River North space, while larger objects and furniture pieces are sent to The Center’s large warehouse space on the city’s west side.
The Center has ample storage room, housing many paintings, drawings, and works on paper. The main space is open and airy with large work tables – some that heat, some with suction, some that can hold liquid, all designed to help treat fragile works of art – where conservators delicately evaluate damaged pieces and work to correct imperfections through countless procedures and methods. They seem to make miracles happen when the old and tired and damaged objects become “new” again.
In addition to services rendered to some of the country’s most prestigious museums, galleries and corporate / private collections, The Center also offers archival framing, mounts and vitrines, as well as art and furniture handling in alarmed, air ride, and climate controlled vehicles. Private collectors are welcome for tours and consultations, and evaluations are offered free of charge.
Visit www.chicagoconservation.com for more information on the The Chicago Conservation Center.