13 museums named recipients of art conservation grants

AP News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2015 7:46 AM
13 museums named recipients of art conservation grants

NEW YORK (AP) — Thirteen museums in seven countries have been named recipients of Bank of America grants for the conservation of artworks ranging from an Edouard Manet painting to a colossal ancient Chinese Buddha.

The 2015 Art Conservation Project grants totaling more than $1 million were announced Friday. The recipients include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the British Museum, the OCA Museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

The selected works are of cultural or historic significance of the particular country, important in the history of art, or an important holding at the institution, said Rena DeSisto, the bank's global arts and culture executive.

The restoration process is a collaborative and interdisciplinary endeavor that involves curators, art historians, scholars and scientists.

In all, 105 artworks will be restored under the 2015 grants. Among them are Manet's "Woman in Evening Dress," a painting that's been on permanent view at the Guggenheim since the 1960s.

"We hope to remove a discolored varnish that is obscuring the brushwork and flattening the painting and really not presenting Manet in his best light," said Carol Stringari, the museum's deputy director and chief conservator.

The varnish was applied by a previous restorer "in order to homogenize the whole work," she said, adding that there also appeared to be some other reworking "by another hand" of the garden and trellis background.

Stringari said it was hoped that the project also would help to more accurately date the painting, now ranging from 1877-1880, and identify the woman depicted in it.

Those are "the scholarly pursuits we're doing in parallel to the research into the material and the potential treatment," she added.

With the 2015 recipients, the 5-year-old Art Conservation Project has provided $7 million in grants to museums in 28 countries for 85 projects.

DeSisto called that "the tip of the iceberg."

"There's so much conservation that needs to be done. ... Conservation tends to be one of the things that get the least attention. We're hopeful that people begin to realize this is yet another expense that art organizations have and if they're not able to take care of the works they could be irrevocably lost."

On average, 70 nonprofit cultural institutions apply annually for the Art Conservation Project grants.

Works conserved last year included the Magna Carta at the Royal Society of Antiquities in London and Henri Matisse's "The Swimming Pool" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The other 2015 recipients are San Ildefonso College in Mexico City; Brooklyn Museum in New York; Heard Museum in Phoenix; Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina; Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut; Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul; The University Art Museum at Tokyo University of the Arts; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

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Online:

http://museums.bankofamerica.com/arts/Conservation

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This story has been corrected to show the name of the Bank of America executive is Rena DeSisto, not Rena De Soto.