A Laboratory for Art


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Harvard's Fogg Museum and the Emergence of Conservation in America, 1900-1950

Francesca G. Bewer

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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.

Distributed for the Harvard Art Museum

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

ISBN: 9780300154696
Publication Date: October 19, 2010
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Harvard Art Museum
368 pages, 6 1/2 x 8 3/4
96 b/w + 41 color illus.
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