Monday, June 1

Paintings Conservation Intern, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Grant Recipient: Class of 2010
Major: College of Letters, French Studies
Organization: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Location: San Francisco, CA

Within a week of starting my internship in the Paintings Conservation Center at the de Young Museum I have already: photographed paintings in preparation for treatment, retouched a frame, reframed a painting, and vacuumed several thousand clothes-moth eggs off a mixed-media piece hanging in the galleries. The museum’s conservators work to repair any damage done by human hand or over time to pieces in the collection and take preventative measures to ensure that works are exhibited in their most authentic and stable state. Working in Conservation has allowed be to become involved with artwork in ways that museum-goers rarely think about and even less frequently experience firsthand—just as the moth infestation went unnoticed by the public the underdrawings of a 15th century Spanish panel painting will, too, remain visible only to those who know they are there (and, more exclusively, have the infrared camera technology to see them.) The work I do has been even more hands-on than I expected; I relish every opportunity to really work on anything but still can’t believe they let me touch the works of art. In a field like conservation where years of post-grad study and lengthy internships are required, my internship this summer, made possible by the Summer Experience Grant, provides the unique occasion for me to delve much further into the technical, intellectual, and professional aspects of such a particular trade, as well as those that apply more generally to museum studies. This is truly an experience in which I expect to learn as much about my goals and myself as I will about the chemical compositions of different pigments or proper procedure for cleaning an oil painting, and I look forward to it.