Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

The Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies provides analysis and treatments for the Harvard Art Museums’ more than 250,000 objects in all media, ranging in date from antiquity to the present, from Europe, North and South America, North Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

Training and education are fundamental activities of the Straus Center, maintaining a tradition established at its founding over 80 years ago, when it became the first institution in the United States to use scientific methods to study artists’ materials and techniques. The center’s Advanced-Level Training Program provides formal hands-on training in the conservation of works on paper, paintings, and objects and sculpture, as well as in conservation science. This program was formalized in 1972 with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and offers three 10-month fellowships each year. Supervised by the Straus Center’s conservators and conservation scientists, fellows refine their practical and analytical skills as they examine and treat works of art from important collections from within the Harvard Art Museums and around the country, and publish their original research.

The Straus Center is a pioneer in the use of sophisticated examination and instrumental techniques to analyze the structural and chemical nature of works of art and historical objects. As a research institution, the Straus Center specializes in performing and publishing integrated technical and art historical studies of works of art in a variety of forums. Its facilities support a comprehensive range of analytical services, including pigment, stone, ceramic, and metal identification, as well as spectroscopic analyses of organic materials including pigments, paint-binding media, and surface treatments and coatings. Much of the analytical staff’s time is devoted to supporting student, faculty, and curatorial research.

The Department for Technical Studies was established in 1928 by Edward W. Forbes, director of Harvard University’s Fogg Museum. It is the oldest fine arts conservation treatment, research, and training facility in the United States. In 1994, the center was renamed the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies in honor of Philip A. and Lynn Straus, longtime benefactors of the Harvard Art Museums. The Straus Center specializes in the conservation of works on paper, paintings, sculpture, decorative objects, and historical and archaeological artifacts.

The Straus Center for Conservation today continues to play a leading role not only in preserving specific works of art but also in developing new methods and techniques for the field of conservation and in training the next generation of conservators.

Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies Staff

General inquiries: 617-495-2392

Henry Lie, Director and Conservator of Objects and Sculpture
Dina Anchin, Paintings Conservation Fellow
Angela Chang, Assistant Director and Conservator of Objects and Sculpture
Susan Costello, Projects Conservator in the Objects Lab
Anne Driesse, Conservator of Works of Art on Paper
Katherine Eremin, Patricia Cornwell Conservation Scientist
Teri Hensick, Conservator of Paintings
Allison Jackson, Project Conservator
Charlotte Karney, Senior Conservation Technician
Kathleen Kennelly, Conservation Administrator
Narayan Khandekar, Senior Conservation Scientist
Daniel Kirby, Associate in Conservation Science
Penley Knipe, Philip and Lynn Straus Conservator of Works of Art on Paper
Nicole Ledoux, Samuel H. Kress Objects Conservation Fellow
Harry Metcalf, Craigen W. Bowen Paper Conservation Fellow
Barbara Owens, Conservation Technician
Georgina Rayner, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Science
Tony Sigel, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture
Kate Smith, Project Paintings Conservator
Jens Stenger, Associate Conservation Scientist

Selected Resources from the Straus Center

Books

Bernini: Sculpting in Clay. Dickerson III, C. D., Anthony Sigel, and Ian Wardropper. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012

Selected Articles by Straus Center Conservators

A. Rodríguez, K. Eremin, N. Khandekar, J. Stenger, R. Newman, F. Bazeta
and M. T. Escohotado, Characterization of Calcium Sulfate Grounds and Fillings of Applied Tin-Relief Brocades by Raman Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, and Scanning Electron MicroscopyJournal of Raman Spectroscopy, 2010

D. Adler, J. Stenger, I. Gorczynska, H. Lie, T. Hensick, R. Spronk, S. Wolohojian, N. Khandekar, J. Jiang, S. Barry, A. Cable, R. Huber, and J. Fujimoto, Comparison of Three-Dimensional Optical Coherence Tomography and High Resolution Photography for Art Conservation Studies, Optics Express, volume 15, issue 24, 2007, pp. 15972-15986

A. Van Giffen, K. Eremin, R. Newman, 2012, “The Harvard Glass Flowers and more: A technical study”,  Annales du 18e Congrès de l’Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre, Thessaloniki, 2009,  pp. 475-480

G. A. Gates, T. Hensick, C. Mancusi-Ungaro, T. Ausema
, T. Learner
, W. Shank
, Reproducing Morris Louis Paintings to Evaluate Conservation Strategies, , ICOM Committee for Conservation, 14th Triennial Meeting, The Hague, 2005: Modern Materials and Contemporary Art, volume 1, pp. 329-334

K. Eremin, J. Chloros, R. Mason, A. Chang, H. Lie, M. McWlliams, A. Sigel, A. Yoltar, Multidisciplinary approaches to understanding ceramics from Islamic lands, Contributions to the Vienna Congress: The Decorative: Conservation and the Applied Arts, Studies in Conservation Supplement 1, volume 57, S354-355

E. Helfenstein, K. Eremin, R. Newman, G. Gates, T. Drayman-Weisser, C. Selvius DeRoo, P. Klausmeyer, I. Freestone, 2012 “Technical examination of enamels from the Botkin collection”, Contributions to the Vienna Congress: The Decorative: Conservation and the Applied Arts, Studies in Conservation Supplement 1, volume 57, S147-S156

L. Robinet, S. Fearn, K. Eremin,
 Understanding Glass Deterioration in Museum Collections: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, ICOM Committee for Conservation, 14th Triennial Meeting, The Hague, 2005: Modern Materials and Contemporary Art, volume 1, pp. 139-145

F. Casadio, A. Bezur, K. Domoney, K. Eremin, L. Lee, J.L. Mass, A. Shortland, N. Zumbulyadis, 2012, “X-ray fluorescence applied to overglaze enamel decoration on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century porcelain from central Europe”, Contributions to the Vienna Congress: The Decorative: Conservation and the Applied Arts, Studies in Conservation Supplement 1, volume 57, S61-S72

Articles About the Straus Center’s Work

Andrew Moseman. Art Detective: This is My Job. Popular Mechanics, May 5, 2010

Marc Simpson. John Singer Sargent’s “Triumph of Religion” at the Boston Public Library: Creation and Restoration. The Burlington Magazine, December 2010

Ken Foster. The Joy of Text. Time Out New York, January 3, 2008

Bob Thompson. Plucky Charms. Washington Post, February 18, 2008

Video

Bernini in Action: Gesture and Technique in Clay

Technical Analysis of Three Paintings Attributed to Jackson Pollock

Websites

The Sargent Murals at the Boston Public Library: History, Interpretation, Restoration