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50 Years of Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Western New York

On View Friday, August 14–Sunday, November 29, 2020

Margaret L. Wendt Gallery   

The Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College and the Burchfield Penney Art Center are co-organizing an exhibition to celebrate the department’s 50th anniversary in 2020. The Burchfield Penney Art Center will host the exhibition entitled 50 Years of Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Western New York that opens in August 2020 and focuses on the many artistic and historic works that have passed through the conservation studios. The 50th anniversary exhibition at the Center will showcase the variety of paintings, works of art on paper, and 3D pieces that have been expertly conserved and restored by the department’s graduate students and faculty from the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York. The Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Museum of Science, and Buffalo and Erie County Public Library will also be part of the Art Conservation Department’s 50th anniversary celebration. Each cultural institution will have independent, concurrent exhibitions in the fall of 2020 showcasing the many artifacts that have been conserved for them over the past five decades.

In the past, the conservation of fine art was usually relegated to a museum’s basement as a “behind the scenes” aspect of museum life. In recent years, conservation studios have increased their relevance and importance, and are much more interactive. Major museums around the world interact with the public with different initiatives. They have transformed their conservation studios and labs with large fishbowl-style windows to provide access to viewing conservation in real time. They perform in situ conservation treatments of large works in museum galleries and conduct behind-the-scenes tours of their studios, such as the Art Conservation Department’s Open House event every fall semester. All these have benefitted museums by generating greater public interest and increased attendance.

“The 50 Years of Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Western New Yorkexhibition with a multitude of objects from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum will be an exciting one,” said Patrick C. Ravines, director and associate professor of the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department, Buffalo State College. The exhibition will inform our fellow Buffalonians and the WNY public of the many wonders and intricacies of each conserved artifact. It will address the material nature and unique problems each object had experienced and how faculty and graduate students creatively solved these problems to bring the pieces back to life and ready to exhibit. Photographs taken before and after conservation, as well as some of the technical scientific documentation in detailed reports will accompany a selection of objects to demonstrate the range of work undertaken.

The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, also known as the Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, is lending four artifacts: two 19th-century Seneca beaded purses, a pair of New York Iroquois/Haudenosaunee woman’s moccasins dating from around 1800, and an early 20th-century splint wood basket by Nancy Bowen (Seneca, Allegheny). Four pieces from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery collection include oil paintings by Hans Olde and Kim Tschang-Yeul dating from 1893 and 1977 respectively, a small 1951 watercolor by Diego Rivera, and a still-life sculpture by Peter Agostini created in 1964. The Burchfield Penney Art Center will show watercolor paintings and drawings by Charles E. Burchfield that span his career, a platinum photographic print by Marie Thibaudeau from around 1910, 20th-century paintings by Seymour Drumlevitch and William B. Rowe, and a bronze sculpture by Charles Cary Rumsey.

Explore a self-guided virtual tour of this exhibition here