A Laboratory for Art Harvard's Fogg Museum and the Emergence of Conservation in America, 1900-1950 Francesca G. Bewer

Publication date:
19 Oct 2010
Harvard Art Museums
368 pages: 222 x 165mm
96 b-w + 41 color illus.

Harvard’s Fogg Museum was the first American museum with a scientifically based conservation and research department. During a period of immense growth of collections in the United States, director Edward W. Forbes and associate director Paul J. Sachs developed the Fogg into a vital training ground for a new breed of museum professionals attuned to the materials of art and the effects of environment.

A Laboratory for Art is the first book to explore the crucial role the Fogg played in the evolution of conservation in the US and abroad. It traces the efforts of staff and students who developed protocols for the treatment and documentation of works— sometimes through trial and error; disseminated research findings by establishing professional forums and a seminal journal; set standards for contemporary artists’ materials during the New Deal; and led the Allied drive to protect monuments and works of art during World War II. Alumni of the Fogg went on to leadership positions in museums and conservation laboratories across America.

Francesca G. Bewer is Research Curator at the Harvard Art Museum’s Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies.