As conservators of contemporary art, we work to analyze artists’ techniques and materials and to preserve artworks for future generations. We are also committed to researching and discovering new and improved ways to care for and interpret artworks to ensure that these works continue to express their makers’ original creative visions in the years to come. In the course of our research, we actively engage with both the artists and the artworks in ways that enhance our understanding of how the artworks were originally made, and how, based on their materials, they might change over time.
No two artworks are alike. In some cases our goal is to simply prevent the artwork from degrading over time. In other cases, we determine what inevitable physical changes might be acceptable to the artist and to the continued appreciation of the artwork. Coupled with our strong focus upon materials science and analytical research, our work contributes to establishing a fuller picture for each of the unique and individual artworks that comprise the Hirshhorn’s collection and helps guarantee they can be enjoyed long into the future.
An important component in working with artists is our artist interview program.Initially developed in 2013, this program has evolved to become an integral aspect of our conservation practice, providing means for gathering information that cannot always be obtained through more traditional forms of analysis. Designed in close step with the work of our fellow leaders in the field, this program is geared to provide a platform for capturing the artists voice over time, beyond the oft acquired‘ artist statement.’ These intimate conversations can offer us the opportunity to dive into the artist’ s creative process, materials, techniques, and evolving attitude toward his / her work on a deeper level.With this program also comes the responsibility of evaluating the role of language and memory as we interpret and apply the artist’ s words into our conservation practices.