The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University recently completed a conservation review of the university’s permanent collection thanks to a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) Division of Preservation and Access.
The grant, granted in August 2020, financed the assessment of collections policy, construction and maintenance, the environment, safety, disaster risk reduction, collection maintenance and maintenance planning. A final 90-page report was completed in June 2021.
“Working remotely during last year’s COVID-19 pandemic, when showrooms were closed to the public, actually increased the time we could spend reviewing all aspects of St. Lawrence University’s permanent collection – something that has not yet been done in this form. “Extensive since the early 1990s,” said Catherine Tedford, director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. Going forward, the final Conservation Needs Assessment Report provides clear recommendations and short- and long-term goals to protect the collection and ensure that it and associated educational programs meet the academic and cultural needs of the university community and the wider North and beyond . “
St. Lawrence’s history of collecting objets d’art and cultural artifacts dates back to the early 20th century. The gallery’s permanent collection, one of the most significant of its kind in northern New York, now includes more than 7,000 objects in genres ranging from representational and documentary to abstract expressionism, pop, character design, and others. The majority of the collection dates from the mid-20th century to the present day and includes paintings, prints, photographs, portfolios, artist books, sculptures, ceramics and ethnographic objects. The collection supports research into many humanities topics, including identity politics, belief systems, perceptions of nature, diversity and multiculturalism, history and politics, health and healing, and creative expression.
The assessment was conducted virtually during a series of Zoom meetings chaired by Anastasia Matijkiw, program manager and conservation specialist at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artefacts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with input from several university staff including Tedford, Assistant Gallery Director Carole Mathey, Vice President of the University and Dean of Studies Karl Schönberg, as well as employee in the Plant Operation and Safety departments. Caroline Welsh, a regional art historian, assisted as curatorial advisor.
For more information on the university’s permanent collection, visit the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery website.