The Conservation Department is responsible for the conservation, treatment, and technical study of the objects in the collection, as well as preservation issues for both the collection and the historic interiors of the Frick mansion.
Staff conservators treat the collection's furniture, sculpture, and decorative art objects. The department also coordinates the treatment of paintings by The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sherman Fairchild Paintings Conservation Department and manages other treatment projects by private conservators. In addition to treatments, the Conservation Department is responsible for the safe display, storage, and movement of art throughout the museum. To that end, the department constructs exhibition furniture and mounts, oversees lighting and installation, and fabricates crates for traveling artworks. Working closely with the Engineering Department, they also monitor the temperature, relative humidity, and light conditions in the galleries and storage areas to ensure a safe environment for the collection.
The Conservation Department serves as an advocate for matters related to the historic preservation of the 1914 mansion and works closely with the Operations Department to manage restoration and remodeling projects. Similarly, the department is involved with projects related to the building's interiors, including selecting and sourcing fabrics and gallery furniture in order to maintain the mansion's historic ambience.
Conservators also perform technical studies. Analysis and research are carried out to help shed light on methods and materials of fabrication and identify alterations and previous conservation. This research helps to expand the Frick's knowledge of the collection and allows more accurate comparisons with similar objects. The technical studies are often a collaborative effort between scholars, curators, scientists, and conservators.
Finally, members of the Conservation Department help to disseminate knowledge about the Collection and its care through presentations at professional forums and publications. They also coordinate Frick-sponsored study days and symposia, including seminars for the public, as part of the Frick's educational programs, and provide training opportunities for conservation students.
History & Staff
The Frick Collection has a long-standing commitment to conservation, though for many years contract conservators completed this work. In particular, renowned conservator William Suhr looked after the paintings collection, and objects conservators Rostislav and Nicholas Hlopoff worked with the decorative arts and sculpture collections, maintaining a studio within the museum. In 2000, the institution hired its first full-time staff conservator and broadened the position's responsibilities to include collections care and historic preservation of the building.
In recent years, the Frick has significantly increased its commitment to conservation. The department now consists of six staff members.